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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 64-65

Does heavy alcohol consumption contribute to abdominal obesity in men?

Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Date of Submission09-Sep-2020
Date of Decision20-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance29-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication13-Jan-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Rome
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_131_20

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How to cite this article:
Okechukwu CE. Does heavy alcohol consumption contribute to abdominal obesity in men?. Curr Med Issues 2021;19:64-5

How to cite this URL:
Okechukwu CE. Does heavy alcohol consumption contribute to abdominal obesity in men?. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Apr 20];19:64-5. Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2021/19/1/64/306934

Alcohol abuse is a foremost risk factor for global disease burden and leads to significant health challenges. Heavy alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio in males with low body weight, indicating a prevalence of fat distribution in the abdominal region in alcoholics.[1] Abdominal obesity is associated with erectile dysfunction, insulin resistance, and hypertension in men.[2] Numerous research studies showed suppression of lipid oxidation by alcohol and, consequently, the augmentation of a positive fat balance; the nonoxidized fat is specifically deposited in the abdominal area; therefore, the consumption of even moderate quantities of alcohol must be accounted for in the energy-balance equation and may signify a risk factor for the development of a positive energy balance, thereby contributing to an increase in abdominal adiposity.[3]

  Possible Biological Mechanisms Involving Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Increase in Visceral Adiposity Top

However, the mechanisms linking excessive alcohol consumption with an increased visceral lipid accumulation are not fully known, but then heavy alcohol consumption causes suppression of fat oxidation, thereby escalating lipid storage.[3] Moreover, alcohol increases the release of glucocorticoids through stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and increased cortisol secretion is associated with an altered fat distribution pattern; cortisol binds to glucocorticoid receptors, which have a high density in visceral fat deposits; this promotes lipid accumulation and retention in visceral adipose tissue.[4] Heavy alcohol intake decreases blood testosterone concentrations in men, and lower secretion of lipid mobilizing sex steroid hormones promotes visceral fat accumulation; heavy alcohol consumers often have lower muscle mass, signifying a catabolic effect of alcohol, probably facilitated through a decrease in androgens and growth hormones which are needed to maintain muscle mass; moreover, men identified as heavy alcohol consumers may consume less nutrients, hence encouraging a catabolic process with reduced muscle mass and increased central fat mass.[5]

  Global Trends in Heavy Alcohol Consumption Top

At present, according to the World Health Organization, heavy intake of alcohol is liable for 7.1% and 2.2% of the global burden of disease for males and females, respectively.[6] Heavy alcohol use contributes to 3 million deaths each year worldwide, and it is accountable for 5.1% of the overall global burden of disease.[6]

  Conclusion Top

Heavy alcohol consumption contributes to abdominal obesity in men, even though the biochemical mechanisms involved are still not evident. Clinicians, public health stakeholders, and health promotion agencies in various urban and rural communities worldwide should create and promote alcohol cessation, diet, and physical activity programs for chronic alcohol consumers and in men diagnosed with visceral obesity, toward promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing the global burden of chronic diseases. Intermittent energy restriction, dietary adjustments, and regular exercise are effective strategies to decrease visceral adiposity. However, further clinical and experimental studies are needed to unravel the full mechanisms linking heavy alcohol consumption and abdominal obesity.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Addolorato G, Capristo E, Greco AV, Stefanini GF, Gasbarrini G. Influence of chronic alcohol abuse on body weight and energy metabolism: Is excess ethanol consumption a risk factor for obesity or malnutrition? J Intern Med 1998;244:387-95.  Back to cited text no. 1
Riedner CE, Rhoden EL, Ribeiro EP, Fuchs SC. Central obesity is an independent predictor of erectile dysfunction in older men. J Urol 2006;176:1519-23.  Back to cited text no. 2
Suter PM. Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for weight gain and obesity? Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 2005;42:197-227.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schröder H, Morales-Molina JA, Bermejo S, Barral D, Mándoli ES, Grau M, et al. Relationship of abdominal obesity with alcohol consumption at population scale. Eur J Nutr 2007;46:369-76.  Back to cited text no. 4
Risérus U, Ingelsson E. Alcohol intake, insulin resistance, and abdominal obesity in elderly men. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2007;15:1766-73.  Back to cited text no. 5
World Health Organization (WHO). Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/alcohol#tab=tab_1. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 08].  Back to cited text no. 6


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