[Alcohol and body weight]

Z Gastroenterol. 1999 Jan;37(1):33-43.
[Article in German]


Alcohol intake contributes to energy balance. Chronic and moderate alcohol consumption (i.e. 20-40 g/day) plus a high fat intake (i.e. > 40% of energy intake) favor a positive energy balance and thus weight gain. By contrast a high alcohol intake (i.e. > 20% of energy intake) may lead to malnutrition depending on the concomitant nutrient intake. It is evident that alcohol cannot be considered as an "empty" calorie. Energy wasting mechanisms, which have been proposed by some authors, are unlikely to contribute to energy balance in healthy subjects. Our present knowledge on the energetic value of alcohol mainly depend on physiologic data based on the measurements of energy and substrate balances. By contrast epidemiologic data on the effect of alcohol intake on body weight are contradictory. This is explained by the limitations of epidemiological studies as well as by the possible contributions of other life style-related factors. It is evident that many studies on the effect of alcohol on body weight are uncontrolled studies. It is surprising that although 100 years of research have gone in this area we still have no definite answer to the question.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Nutritive Value
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / physiopathology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Ethanol