Short term effects of alcohol on appetite in humans. Effects of context and restrained eating

Appetite. 2010 Dec;55(3):565-73. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


The present study examined further the short-term effects of alcohol on food intake and appetite in women volunteers, testing the extent to which the apparent appetizing effects of alcohol depend on (a) expectations that alcohol had been consumed and (b) disinhibition of dietary restraint. Twenty restrained and 20 unrestrained women consumed a drink preload 30 min before a test meal on four different days, with preloads varying in alcohol content (alcohol or energy-matched control) and drink context (alcohol-related - beer or alcohol unrelated - juice). Significantly more energy was consumed following alcohol than no-alcohol, but this effect depended on the drink consumed: least was eaten after the alcohol-free juice drink, and most after the same juice drink with added alcohol. There was no evidence that the effect of alcohol on intake was due to disinhibition of restrained eating, nor did alcohol increase liking for the test foods. The change in energy intake at lunch was mainly due to greater intake of energy-rich foods on days when alcohol had been consumed. Alcohol also increased rated appetite once food had been tasted, suggesting alcohol may increase food-related reward. Overall these data suggest that effects of alcoholic drinks represent a complex interaction between physiological effects of alcohol and expectations and associations generated by past experience of alcoholic drinks.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Reward
  • Satiety Response / drug effects*
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol