The association of lifetime alcohol use with measures of abdominal and general adiposity in a large-scale European cohort

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Oct;65(10):1079-87. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.70. Epub 2011 May 11.


Background/objectives: The relation between lifetime use of alcohol and measures of abdominal and general adiposity is unknown.

Subjects/methods: Among 99,381 men and 158,796 women of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, means of waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI), and odds ratios (OR) for a larger WC than predicted for a given BMI (WClp=positive residuals of gender specific linear regression of BMI on WC) across categories of average lifetime use of alcohol (total, from wine and from beer) were calculated, all adjusted for socio-demographic, lifestyle and health factors.

Results: WC, WHR and BMI in men using lifetime ≤6 g/d alcohol were 95.1 cm, 0.942 and 27.3 kg/m(2), and 96.2 cm, 0.961 and 28.3 kg/m(2) when using >96 g/d. WC and WHR in women was 83.2 cm and 0.813 for ≤6 g/d, and 84.6 cm and 0.830 for >60 g/d, whereas BMI deviated only slightly with the lowest BMI (26.7 kg/m(2)) observed for >6-24 g/d. Compared with ≤6 g/d, OR for a WClp in both genders increased steadily across categories of alcohol use (up to 1.40 (95% confidence interval 1.32, 1.49) in men using >60 g/d and 1.63 (1.54, 1.73) in women using >24 g/d), though increase was higher for alcohol from beer than from wine (P for difference between beer and wine<0.001 (men) and=0.002 (women)).

Conclusion: Lifetime alcohol use is positively related to abdominal and general adiposity in men, possibly following the male weight gain pattern; in women, it is positively related only to abdominal adiposity. In this context, beer may contribute additionally to abdominal adiposity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / drug effects*
  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Beer / adverse effects
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio
  • Weight Gain
  • Whites
  • Wine / adverse effects