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Almost 300 women studied: BMI inversely correlated with alcohol intake.

SAN DIEGO -- Women with a higher body mass index are less likely to consume alcohol than their slimmer counterparts, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine.

These findings on the inverse correlation between women's body mass index (BMI) and alcohol use support the investigators' hypothesis that food and alcohol may compete for reward centers in the brain. In that sense, overeating may protect some women from becoming addicted to alcohol and, possibly, other drugs, said Dr. Mark S. Gold and his colleagues at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The findings may also explain, in part, why obesity is becoming more prevalent in the general population: People may be choosing their food based on its ability to stimulate reward centers in the brain. "Highly palatable, highly sugar-dense foods may be reinforcing, as if they were a drug." Dr. Gold told this newspaper in an interivew.

People who stop drinking or using drugs should be advised to increase their exercise because they may gain weight. Recovering alcoholics should be warned not to allow themselves to become too hungry, said Dr. Gold, who is chief of the McKnight Brain Institute at the university.

In their study, he and his associates reviewed the alcohol consumption histories of 298 female patients referred to the university's weight management clinic as candidates for bariatric surgery over a 12-month period.

The patients' initial weight ranged from 154 to 611 pounds, with a mean of 276 pounds.

Their mean body mass index (BMI) was 46 kg/[m.sup.2], with a range of 27-107 kg/[m.sup.2]. A BMI at or greater than 25 kg/[m.sup.2] is defined as overweight; anything at or over 30 kg/[m.sup.2] is considered obese; and 40 kg/[m.sup.2] is defined as extreme obesity.

Significant differences in the percentages of women reporting any alcohol consumption over the past year emerged when the patients were grouped into four categories according to BMI (see table).

A similar inverse correlation was seen when absolute levels of alcohol consumption were calculated according to BMI, Dr. Gold said.
Alcohol Consumption and Body Mass Index in Overweight Women

 Patients who consumed Total patients
 alcohol* in group

Body Mass Index
27-29 kg/[m.sup.2] 5 8(63%)
30-39 kg/[m.sup.2] 40 84(48%)
40-49 kg/[m.sup.2] 46 110(42%)
>50 kg/[m.sup.2] 34 96(35%)

*Reported consuming any alcohol over the past year.
Sources: K. Frost-Pineda, Dr. J.E. Star, and Dr. Mark S. Gold of the
University of Florida, Gainesville

Note: Table made from bar graph.


Los Angeles Bureau
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Title Annotation:Clinical Rounds
Author:MacReady, Norra
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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