Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome

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Korean J Obes 2009; 18(1): 1-7

Published online March 1, 2009

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

Effects of Alcohol on Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Sang Woo Oh*

Department of Family Medicine, Dongguk University International Hospita1

Abstract

Alcohol is one of the major public health problems in
Korea. Korea has one of the highest heavy drinking rates
among OECD nations (63.4%) and drinking rates have
increased even more during the past years, especially in
women.
Alcohol is high in calories (7.1 kcal/g), however it is
still controversial whether moderate intake of alcohol
contributes as a risk factor for weight gain and obesity.
Experimental studies demonstrated that moderate alcohol
consumption enhances energy intake attributed to its
caloric content as well as its appetite-enhancing effects.
Others demonstrated that, although de-novo lipogenesis
from alcohol is limited in human, alcohol suppresses lipid
oxidation from adipose tissue and thus enhances fat
deposition, preferentially in the abdominal area.
There is a significant rise in the systolic and diastolic
blood pressure after drinking. Meta-analysis demonstrated
a significant rise in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and
diastolic BP (DBP) of 2.7 mmHg and 1.4 mm Hg,
respectively, after alcohol intake. Effect of alcohol on
type 2 diabetes is also controversial and not conclusive.
However, some studies demonstrated the effect of heavy
drinking on enhancement of insulin resistance and type 2
diabetes. Alcohol decreased the risk of low HDL
-cholesterol, but enhanced that of hypertriglyceridemia.
This contrary effect on blood lipid profile seems to evoke
some conflicting study results concerning the effect of
alcohol on cardiovascular events.
Previous evidences supported the beneficial effects of
moderate alcohol consumption on metabolic syndrome.
However, some recent studies and also those involving
Korean data suggest that heavy drinking has harmful
effects on metabolic syndrome and obesity. Although the
mechanisms explaining these dose-dependent differential
effects of alcohol need to be elucidated, avoiding heavy
drinking seems to be an important issue in the prevention
of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Keywords: Alcohol, Abdominal obesity, Dyslipidemia,
Blodd pressure, Glucose