British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Alcohol energy intake and habitual physical activity in older adults

Klaas R. Westerterpa1 c1, Erwin P. Meijera1, Annelies H. C. Gorisa1 and Arnold D. M. Kestera2

a1 Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Methodology and Statistics, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands


Alcohol forms a significant component of many diets and it supplements rather than displaces daily energy intake. Surprisingly, alcohol intake does not systematically increase body weight. The present study assessed whether a higher level of habitual physical activity in the daily environment is associated with a higher alcohol intake. Alcohol intake as part of total food intake was measured with a 7 d dietary record while at the same time physical activity was monitored with a tri-axial accelerometer for movement registration. Subjects were twenty women and twenty-four men, aged 61±5 years, of BMI 27·1±4·6 kg/m2. Between subjects, there was a positive association between the level of habitual physical activity and alcohol intake (r 0·41; P<0·01). The subjects with higher alcohol intake had a higher activity level. On days with and days without alcohol consumption there was no difference in physical activity within subjects. In conclusion, it was shown that subjects with higher alcohol consumption are habitually more active. This may explain the lack of increasing body weight through additional energy intake from alcohol.

(Received March 05 2003)

(Revised July 30 2003)

(Accepted September 02 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Klaas R. Westerterp, fax +31 43 3670976, email