Does alcohol stimulate appetite and energy intake?

Br J Community Nurs. 2006 Jul;11(7):298-302. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2006.11.7.21445.


It has been anecdotally suggested that alcohol stimulates appetite and so increases energy intake in people who have poor appetite. This review sought to systematically review the evidence for this practice, using the mini-review approach (Griffiths, 2002). Among the eight studies reviewed, only one showed a significant difference in appetite ratings between the alcohol and no alcohol preload. However, significant differences were found in energy intake following a high-dose alcohol preload as opposed to a no-alcohol preload, in three out of the eight studies reviewed. One further study reported an increase in energy intake after the alcohol preload but this failed to reach statistical significance. In conclusion, the effect of alcohol on appetite appears largely unsubstantiated. Alcohol's effect on energy intake does appear significant, but further research is necessary owing to small sample sizes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anorexia / drug therapy*
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ethanol