Study: Two drinks per day raises risk for obesity, metabolic syndrome

Sept. 2 (UPI) — Drinking more than two standard-sized servings of alcohol per day raises the risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome in some people by more than 30%, a study presented Wednesday during the European and International Congress on Obesity found.

Compared with non-drinkers, men who drank on average between one-half and one standard drink a day were roughly 10% more likely to have obesity and metabolic syndrome, while those who consumed two drinks per day raised the risk by up to 25%, the data showed.


Men who consumed more than two drinks per day had a 34% higher risk for obesity and 42% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, according to the researchers.

Similarly, women who consumed a larger amounts of alcohol were more likely to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome. Those who reported having more than two drinks per day were 22% more likely to become obese and 18% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, the researchers said.

They defined one standard drink as containing about 14 grams of alcohol — which is roughly equivalent to the amount in a small glass of wine, a bottle of beer or a shot of liquor — similar to standards in the United States.

“Our results suggest that the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome increases in proportion to alcohol consumption when male and female adults drink more than half a standard drink per day,” the researchers, from the National Medical Center in Seoul, wrote.

More than 40% of all American adults meet the criteria for obesity — being severely overweight — according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC defines obesity as having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or above. BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of height in meters.

Up to 30% of Americans have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and high cholesterol — that occur together, increasing risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, the CDC estimates.

For this study, researchers analyzed health data and alcohol consumption from the Korean National Health Insurance System for more than 14 million men and 12 million women age 20 and older from South Korea over a two-year period.

Even after taking participant age, exercise levels and smoking history into account, a strong association resulted between alcohol consumption and the two common health conditions, the researchers said.

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