28 September 2023 In General Health

Background The relationship between alcohol consumption and ectopic fat distribution, both known factors for cardiovascular disease, remains understudied. Therefore, we aimed to examine the association between alcohol consumption and ectopic adiposity in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Methods and Results In this cross-sectional analysis, we categorized alcohol intake among participants in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) as follows (drinks/day): 2 (heavy drinking), former drinking, and lifetime abstention. Binge drinking was defined as consuming >/=5 drinks on 1 occasion in the past month. Visceral, subcutaneous, and intermuscular fat area, pericardial fat volume, and hepatic fat attenuation were measured using noncontrast computed tomography. Using multivariable linear regression, we examined the associations between categories of alcohol consumption and natural log-transformed fat in ectopic depots. We included 6756 MESA participants (62.1+/-10.2 years; 47.2% women), of whom 6734 and 1934 had chest computed tomography (pericardial and hepatic fat) and abdominal computed tomography (subcutaneous, intermuscular, and visceral fat), respectively. In adjusted analysis, heavy drinking, relative to lifetime abstention, was associated with a higher (relative percent difference) pericardial 15.1 [95% CI, 7.1-27.7], hepatic 3.4 [95% CI, 0.1-6.8], visceral 2.5 [95% CI, -10.4 to 17.2], and intermuscular 5.2 [95% CI, -6.6 to 18.4] fat but lower subcutaneous fat -3.5 [95% CI, -15.5 to 10.2]). The associations between alcohol consumption and ectopic adiposity exhibited a J-shaped pattern. Binge drinking, relative to light-to-moderate drinking, was also associated with higher ectopic fat.

Conclusions Alcohol consumption had a J-shaped association with ectopic adiposity. Both heavy alcohol intake and binge alcohol drinking were associated with higher ectopic fat.

18 August 2023 In Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), once considered a benign condition, has been associated with several cardiometabolic complications over the past two decades. The worldwide prevalence of NAFLD is as high as 30%. NAFLD requires the absence of a "significant alcohol intake." Conflicting reports have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may be protective; therefore, the diagnosis of NAFLD previously relied on negative criteria. However, there has been a significant increase in alcohol consumption globally. Apart from the rise in alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), alcohol, a major toxin, is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma. Alcohol misuse is a significant contributor to disability-adjusted life years. Recently, the term metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) was proposed instead of NAFLD to include the metabolic dysfunction responsible for the major adverse outcomes in patients with fatty liver disease. MAFLD, dependent on the "positive diagnostic criteria" rather than previous exclusion criteria, may identify individuals with poor metabolic health and aid in managing patients at increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Although MAFLD is less stigmatizing than NAFLD, excluding alcohol intake may increase the risk of already existing underreported alcohol consumption in this subgroup of patients. Therefore, alcohol consumption may increase the prevalence of fatty liver disease and its associated complications in patients with MAFLD. This review discusses the effects of alcohol intake and MAFLD on fatty liver disease.

18 August 2023 In Diabetes

CONTEXT: Effects of modest alcohol consumption remain controversial. Mendelian randomization (MR) can help to mitigate biases due to confounding and reverse causation in observational studies, and evaluate the potential causal role of alcohol consumption.

OBJECTIVE: This work aimed to evaluate dose-dependent effect of alcohol consumption on obesity and type 2 diabetes.

METHODS: Assessing 408 540 participants of European ancestry in the UK Biobank, we first tested the association between self-reported alcohol intake frequency and 10 anthropometric measurements, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. We then conducted MR analyses both in the overall population and in subpopulations stratified by alcohol intake frequency.

RESULTS: Among individuals having more than 14 drinks per week, a 1-drink-per-week increase in genetically predicted alcohol intake frequency was associated with a 0.36-kg increase in fat mass (SD = 0.03 kg), a 1.08-fold increased odds of obesity (95% CI, 1.06-1.10), and a 1.10-fold increased odds of type 2 diabetes (95% CI, 1.06-1.13). These associations were stronger in women than in men. Furthermore, no evidence was found supporting the association between genetically increased alcohol intake frequency and improved health outcomes among individuals having 7 or fewer drinks per week, as MR estimates largely overlapped with the null. These results withstood multiple sensitivity analyses assessing the validity of MR assumptions.

CONCLUSION: As opposed to observational associations, MR results suggest there may not be protective effects of modest alcohol consumption on obesity traits and type 2 diabetes. Heavy alcohol consumption could lead to increased measures of obesity as well as increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

27 April 2023 In General Health

Alcohol is calorie dense, but unlike food products, alcoholic drinks tend to be exempt from nutritional labelling laws that require energy content information to be displayed on packaging or at point of purchase. This review provides a perspective on the likely efficacy of alcoholic drink energy labelling as a public health policy to reduce obesity and discusses key questions to be addressed by future research.

First, the contribution that alcohol makes to population level daily energy intake and obesity is outlined. Next, consumer need for alcohol energy labelling and the potential impacts on both consumer and industry behavior are discussed. Pathways and mechanisms by which energy labelling of alcoholic drinks could reduce obesity are considered, as well as possible unintended consequences of alcoholic drink energy labelling. Would widespread energy labelling of alcoholic drinks reduce obesity? The unclear effect that alcohol has on population level obesity, the modest contribution calories from alcohol make to daily energy intake and limited impact nutritional labelling policies tend to have on behavior, suggest alcohol energy labelling may have limited impact on population obesity prevalence as a standalone policy. However, there are a number of questions that will need to be answered by future research to make definitive conclusions on the potential for alcohol energy labelling policies to reduce obesity.

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