The body mass index (BMI) of individuals who drink alcohol may be related to how much, and how often, they drink, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Healths National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In an analysis of data collected from more than 37,000 people who had never smoked, researchers found that BMI was associated with the number of drinks individuals consumed on the days they drank. Calculated as an individuals weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, BMI measures whether or not a person is at a healthy weight – low BMI values generally indicate leanness and higher BMI values indicate being overweight.
"In our study, men and women who drank the smallest quantity of alcohol – one drink per drinking day – with the greatest frequency – three to seven days per week – had the lowest BMIs," said first author Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D., "while those who infrequently consumed the greatest quantity had the highest BMIs." A report of the study by Dr. Breslow, an epidemiologist in NIAAAs Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research and colleague Barbara A. Smothers, Ph.D., appears in the February 15, 2005, issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"This is an important issue," said NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D. "Obesity is prevalent in the United States and is a risk factor for numerous chronic illnesses and early death. Since alcohol use also is prevalent in this country, it is important to examine the relationship of quantity and frequency of consumption to body weight."
John Bowersox | EurekAlert!
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