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Familial Alcoholism, Obesity Appear Linked

Link particularly strong in women; obesity risk in this population increased in recent decade

FRIDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- There is strong epidemiologic support for a link between familial alcoholism and obesity risk in women, with a less robust linkage found in men, according to research published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Richard A. Grucza, Ph.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed repeated cross-sectional National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (1991 to 1992) and National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (2001 to 2002) data, including over 39,000 individuals from each survey. The purpose of the study was to determine whether familial risk of alcohol dependence predicts obesity and whether the link has become stronger.

The researchers found that, in the 1991 to 1992 data, the odds of obesity were 6 percent higher for women with a family history of alcoholism; these odds rose dramatically to 49 percent higher in the 2001 to 2002 data, and remained significant after adjustment for multiple covariates. The odds of obesity were significantly, though less dramatically, elevated for men (odds ratio, 1.26) in 2001 to 2002, but trends over time were not statistically significant after adjustment.

"We found a significant association between family history of alcoholism and obesity among men and women surveyed in 2001 to 2002. Furthermore, this association was substantially greater in 2001 to 2002 than in 1991 to 1992 among women, with a qualitatively similar but less pronounced trend among men (P = .05) in bivariate analyses," the authors write.

One author is an inventor on the patent "Markers for Addiction," covering the use of certain single nucleotide polymorphisms in determining the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of addiction, and also served as a consultant for Pfizer Inc. in 2008.

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