Drinking is associated with a poor diet, a new study says.
Spanish researchers surveyed more than 12,000 adults aged 18 to 64 about their drinking and eating habits. They found that heavy drinking, binge drinking, a preference for hard liquor and even drinking at mealtimes were associated with poor adherence to major nutrition guidelines.
Although drinking during mealtimes is traditionally associated with good health, the researchers found that this was not true if the drinkers ate carelessly.
"Our results are of relevance because they show that drinking at mealtimes is associated with insufficient intake of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and with excessive intake of animal protein," said study corresponding author Jose Lorenzo Valencia-Martin, a doctor at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, said.
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"In Spain, alcohol is frequently drunk during meals, particularly lunch and dinner. Because of this, and the lower prevalence of abstainers, our findings apply to most adults in Spain and in other Mediterranean countries in Europe," he added.
Valencia-Martin pointed out that heavy drinkers were likely to develop liver disease, and that many tended to favour high-energy fast foods high in trans fat. Unfortunately, a diet high in trans fats might also contribute to liver disease, he said.
Excessive drinking and an unhealthy diet are two major preventable factors that contribute to health problems in developed nations, the researchers noted.
"Drinking alcohol may reduce maintaining a healthy diet, leading to adverse metabolic effects which, in turn, add to those directly produced by alcohol," Valencia-Martin said.
"Alcohol may indirectly contribute to several chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease or cancer," he added.
The study appears online and in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about nutrition.
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