Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Alcohol intake in relation to body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio: the importance of type of alcoholic beverage

Esther Lukasiewicza1, Louise I Mennena1a2 c1, Sandrine Bertraisa1, Nathalie Arnaulta1, Paul Preziosia1, Pilar Galana1 and Serge Hercberga1a2

a1 UMR INSERM Unit 557/INRA Unit 1125, Institut Scientifique et Technique de la Nutrition et de l'Alimentation, ISTNA/CNAM, 5 rue du Vertbois, F-75003 Paris, France

a2 Unité de Surveillance et d'Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, INVS–CNAM, Paris, France


Objective Alcohol consumption may play a role in the development of obesity but the relationship between alcohol and weight is still unclear. The aim of our study was to assess the cross-sectional association of intakes of total alcohol and of specific alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and spirits) with waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and body mass index (BMI) in a large sample of adults from all over France.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Participants were free-living healthy volunteers of the SU.VI.MAX study (an intervention study on the effects of antioxidant supplementation on chronic diseases).

Subjects For 1481 women aged 35–60 years and 1210 men aged 45–60 years, intakes of total alcohol and specific alcoholic beverages were assessed by six 24-hour dietary records. BMI and WHR were measured during a clinical examination the year after.

Results A J-shaped relationship was found between total alcohol consumption and WHR in both sexes and between total alcohol consumption and BMI in men only (P < 0.05). The same relationships were observed with wine (P < 0.05); men and women consuming less than 100 g day−1 had a lower BMI (men only) and WHR than non-drinkers or those consuming more. Spirits consumption was positively associated with BMI (linear regression coefficient β = 0.21, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.09–0.34 and β = 0.22, 95% CI: 0.06–0.39 for men and women, respectively) and WHR (β = 0.003, 95% CI: 0.001–0.005 and β = 0.003, 95%CI: 0.0002–0.006) in both sexes in a linear fashion. No relationship between beer consumption and BMI or WHR was found.

Conclusion If confirmed in longitudinal studies, our results indicate that consumption of alcoholic beverages may be a risk factor for obesity.

(Received October 28 2003)

(Accepted September 23 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email