Americans tend to eat more kilojoules and fat on the days
they also have alcoholic drinks, a new study suggests. "Food choices
changed on the days that people drank... and changed in an unhealthier
direction for both men and women," said Rosalind Breslow, a nutritional
epidemiologist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and
the lead author of the study.
She said the new information gives people an opportunity to
be more aware of what they're eating on the days they imbibe. In a previous study,
Breslow found people who drink more tend to have poorer diets in general,
compared to those who drink less. For the current research, she and her
colleagues looked at volunteers' diets on both the days they drank and the days
out what they eat
The data came from a large US health and lifestyle survey
conducted in 2003 through 2008.More than 1 800 people answered a diet
questionnaire on two days within a 10-day span - one day when they drank and
another when they did not. When people did imbibe, they had an average of two
to three alcoholic beverages at a time, most commonly beer and wine.
Breslow's team found that on non-alcohol days, men in the
study ate about 10 080 kilojoules, based on their diet reports, and women
consumed 7140 kilojoules, on average. When they also drank, men took in about 1680
more daily kilojoules and women about 1260 more.
For women, the extra kilojoules could be explained by the
alcohol alone - but for men, between 420 and 840 were from food. The types of
food people ate - not just how much - changed on the days they drank as well.
For example, men and women both ate about nine percent more fat when they drank
alcohol, the researchers reported in The American Journal of Clinical
Men consumed more
Men reported eating more white potatoes and meat on their
drinking days and both men and women drank less milk. "Why that's
happening, it's very hard to speculate based on this," said Dr Suthat
Liangpunsakul, who studies alcohol consumption at the Indiana University School
of Medicine in Indianapolis and was not involved in the study.
Breslow said there are a number of possible explanations. It
could be that social events that involve drinking often also involve
less-healthy foods, or that people are more impulsive when they drink and don't
stop themselves from indulging.
Although food choices tended to go in a less-healthy
direction on drinking days, "we can't say that because these people were
taking in more calories that they would be gaining weight, because we didn't
study that," Breslow said.
The researchers don't know how people ate on the other days
of the week, she pointed out, and they might have been compensating for their
poor eating habits on drinking days. Liangpunsakul agreed that it's difficult
to determine just how important less-healthy diets on drinking days might be to
people's health."We don't know if it will (influence) obesity or weight
changes," he said.
Breslow said people should be aware that alcoholic beverages
add calories and be mindful of how they eat when they drink alcohol, focusing
on whole grains, healthy oils and vegetables. And, she added, people should
drink in moderation. Current federal guidelines recommend women drink no more
than one alcoholic beverage each day and men no more than two.