Alcohol consumption increases the risk of being overweight

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Alcohol promotes the formation of belly fat, especially in women

A connection between alcohol consumption and the risk of overweight and obesity has been examined several times in the past. Now the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) by the German Institute for Nutrition Research Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DifE) comes to the conclusion that regular alcohol consumption in women primarily causes increased fat deposits in the abdominal area, while men all over the body increase.

The EPIC study not only clearly shows that regular alcohol consumption is usually associated with a significant weight gain, but also points to gender-specific differences and the variable effects of the various alcoholic beverages. According to this, women tend to gain weight on the belly, while men increase their whole bodies and beer makes them fatter than wine, the researchers report in the current issue of the journal "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition"

Alcohol consumption permanently changes the body shape of women As part of the EPIC study, the researchers evaluated the data of 250,000 adult Europeans and checked the connection between long-term alcohol consumption and the risk of being overweight. On the one hand, the scientists found that the long-term consumption of alcohol is generally associated with an increased risk of being overweight. On the other hand, they were able to find clear differences in the gender-specific effects of alcohol. According to the results of the EPIC study, women are increasing through the years of alcohol consumption, especially in the abdominal area. For example, women who consumed very little or no alcohol had an average of one and a half centimeters less waist circumference than study participants who drank more than two glasses daily for a long period of time. As a result of alcohol consumption, the body shape of women has changed significantly, although there were hardly any differences between abstinent and alcohol-drinking women based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), the researchers report. Manuela Bergmann from the German Institute for Nutritional Research, first author of the current article, explained that “high alcohol consumption, especially in women, has an adverse effect on body fat distribution. The fat mainly collects in the upper abdomen ”. But this is where fat storage is particularly harmful. "If the waist size increases, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases also increases," emphasized study director Professor Heiner Boeing.

Men gain weight through alcohol consumption throughout the body The men who drink alcohol also registered an increase in waist circumference in the context of the EPIC study, but this was smaller than the abstinent men with an average of 1.1 centimeters than among women. The men put on a lot more weight than the women in the course of long-term alcohol consumption, the researchers report. The BMI among alcohol users was significantly higher at 28.3 on average than among men who consumed little or no alcohol (average BMI of 27.3). The scientists explained that this corresponds to a weight difference of more than three kilograms for a 1.80 meter tall man. The alcohol-drinking men not only formed significantly more fat deposits on the stomach but also on other parts of the body.

Significant health risks from increased belly fat The researchers also found in the EPIC study that beer makes you fatter than wine. A higher percentage of belly fat was found in beer drinkers than in wine drinkers, explained the research team led by Professor Heiner Boeing. "The differences in waist circumference are not extremely large, but they are clear," emphasized Manuela Bergmann. Since the increased belly fat is associated with a particularly large number of health risks, even this slight difference "can play a role in health," explained Bergmann. Fat in the abdominal cavity is attributed to a significant increase in the risk of inflammatory processes in the body, certain cancers as well as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston published a study at the end of last year that found that women with a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity were more prone to osteoporosis or a decrease in bone density. (fp)

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