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Am J Prev Med. 2017 Mar 29. pii: S0749-3797(17)30140-X. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.02.007. [Epub ahead of print]

Heavy Drinking in Young Adulthood Increases Risk of Transitioning to Obesity.

Author information

1
Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas. Electronic address: tfazzino@kumc.edu.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas; Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.
3
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.
4
Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
5
Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Heavy episodic alcohol use during young adulthood may contribute to excess weight gain and transition from healthy weight to overweight/obesity. This study is the first to evaluate the association between heavy episodic drinking during early adulthood and transition to overweight/obese status 5 years later using data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health.

METHODS:

The study used data from Waves III and IV, when participants were aged 18-26 and 24-32 years, respectively. The final sample consisted of 7,941 participants with measured height/weight who reported ever drinking alcohol. Multinomial logistic regression models tested the association between heavy episodic drinking and risk of transitioning to an unhealthy weight class.

RESULTS:

Heavy episodic drinking was associated with 41% higher risk of transitioning from normal weight to overweight (relative risk ratio, 1.41; 95% CI=1.13, 1.74; p=0.002) and 36% higher risk of transitioning from overweight to obese by Wave IV (relative risk ratio, 1.36; 95% CI=1.09, 1.71; p=0.008), compared with individuals not drinking heavily, while accounting for covariates. Heavy episodic drinking was associated with 35% higher risk of maintaining obesity (relative risk ratio, 1.35; CI=1.06, 1.72; p=0.016) and gaining excess weight (OR=1.20, 95% CI=1.03, 1.39, p=0.02).

CONCLUSIONS:

Regular heavy episodic drinking in young adulthood is associated with higher risk of gaining excess weight and transitioning to overweight/obesity. Obesity prevention efforts should address heavy drinking as it relates to caloric content and risk of transitioning to an unhealthy weight class.

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