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J Addict Dis. 2004;23(3):105-18.

Body mass index and alcohol use.

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  • 1College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.



Obesity, inactivity and being overweight are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. The relationship between eating, overeating, and addiction have been discussed, debated and more recently investigated. We have hypothesized that drugs of abuse compete with food for brain reward sites. Overeating and obesity may act as protective factors reducing drug reward and addiction.


In the first part of this study, 374 charts of all active weight management patients in a 12-month period were examined. Demographic information, laboratory testing, psychiatric diagnostic interview, alcohol and drug history were reviewed. A detailed alcohol use, abuse, dependence history was present in 298 charts as part of the pre-bariatric evaluation. The relationship between BMI and alcohol use among female patients (n = 298) was then analyzed.


We found a significant (p <.05) inverse relationship between BMI and alcohol consumption. The more obese the patient was, the less alcohol they consumed. The percentage of women who consumed alcohol in the past year decreased as BMI level increased. These results confirmed our surgeons' perception that it is rare to find a morbidly obese patient excluded for bariatric surgery because of excessive alcohol consumption.


Obese patients have lower rates of alcohol use than found in the general population of women. As BMI increases, lower rates of alcohol consumption are found. Overeating may compete with alcohol for brain reward sites, making alcohol ingestion less reinforcing.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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