It’s been widely reported that Americans are drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we all know the health consequences of too much alcohol.
But how does obesity enter into the risk equation?
Well, a recent study looked at alcohol intake in relation to body mass index (BMI). Researchers found an increased risk of developing fatty liver disease and all-cause mortality.
Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease: A Study
The study reviewed 18,506 patients without fatty liver disease (FLD). Participants were classified by alcohol consumption status: non-drinkers, moderate drinkers, and heavy drinkers. The patients were followed for about 6 years.
And what did they find?
Moderate Drinking & Obesity
The risk of developing FLD or all-cause mortality in moderate drinkers varied. Those with normal weight were at a reduced risk. But individuals with obesity were at a greater risk.
This supports the current recommendation that individuals with obesity should not consume alcohol. Even low alcohol intake may not be safe.
Moderate Drinking & Normal Weight
For normal-weight individuals, moderate alcohol intake may be safe and even offer liver protection. Decreased insulin resistance, improved lipid profiles, and anti-inflammatory properties may be the reasons.
The survival benefit of moderate alcohol use was not found in those with obesity.
Moderate alcohol intake is a risk factor for FLD in individuals with obesity, but protective in those with normal weight. As a result, alcohol consumption should be avoided in individuals with obesity.
People with fatty liver disease who continue to consume alcohol may be at risk of developing cirrhosis. If you think you may be at risk, eliminate alcohol consumption and talk to your physician.
Peeraphatdit T, Ahn J, Coi D, Allen A, Simonetto D, Kamath P, Shah V. A Cohort Study Examining the Interaction of Alcohol Consumption and Obesity in Hepatic Steatosis and Mortality. Mayo Clic Proc. December 2020;95(12):2612-2620.
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