Familial Alcoholism Risk May Be Linked to Obesity

Association more prominent among women than men; has emerged since early 1990s

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Familial alcoholism risk appears to be associated with obesity, especially among women, 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 conducted analyses of the repeated cross-sectional National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (1991 to 1992) and National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (2001 to 2002) to determine whether familial risk of alcohol dependence predicts obesity and whether any such association grew stronger between the early 1990s and early 2000s.

Compared to women without a family history of alcoholism in 2001 to 2002, the investigators found that women with a family history had 49 percent higher odds of obesity, a highly significant increase from 1991 to 1992 (odds ratio, 1.06). While the association was significant for men in 2001 to 2002 (odds ratio, 1.26), it was not as strong as for women. The association for women remained robust after adjustment for covariates; however, the association for men did not meet statistical significance criteria after adjustment for covariates.

"These results provide epidemiologic support for a link between familial alcoholism risk and obesity in women and possibly in men," the authors write. "This link has emerged in recent years and may result from an interaction between a changing food environment and predisposition to alcoholism and related disorders."

One author disclosed serving as a consultant for Pfizer Inc. in 2008, and is the inventor of a patent covering the use of certain single nucleotide polymorphisms in determining the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of addiction.

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