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Appetite. 2016 Apr 1;99:105-111. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.01.014. Epub 2016 Jan 12.

The relationship of alcohol use to weight loss in the context of behavioral weight loss treatment.

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Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Electronic address:
Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Despite common wisdom that reducing alcohol intake will facilitate weight loss, little research has examined whether participants in behavioral weight loss treatments actually decrease their alcohol intake, or whether reduced alcohol intake relates to weight loss outcomes in this context. This study examined the relationship of alcohol use to energy intake excluding alcohol and to weight in 283 overweight and obese adults participating in a 26-session behavioral weight loss treatment. The majority of participants consumed low to moderate levels of alcohol at baseline. Participants who consumed alcohol at baseline meaningfully reduced their alcohol intake by end-of-treatment. Alcohol use did not relate to weight at baseline or end-of-treatment when controlling for relevant demographic variables, and change in alcohol use was unrelated to weight change in the overall sample during treatment. However, end-of-treatment alcohol intake did relate to end-of-treatment energy intake excluding alcohol. In addition, behavioral impulsivity and change in alcohol intake interacted to predict weight loss, such that decreases in alcohol intake were associated with greater percent weight loss at end-of-treatment for participants with higher levels of impulsivity. Alcohol consumption may lead to overeating episodes, and highly impulsive individuals may be at risk for increased energy intake during or after episodes of drinking. Therefore, the recommendation to reduce alcohol intake in the context of behavioral weight loss treatment seems warranted, particularly for individuals with high levels of impulsivity.


Alcohol consumption; Behavioral weight loss treatment; Impulsivity; Obesity

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