Alcohol and Obesity

IN the most cursory consideration of obesity and its causes, reference must be made to alcohol. Carter says :

“As a food, alcohol is of the type of the energy-yielding food-stuffs, fats and carbohydrates. It can be substituted for them at least to a limited extent and is capable of exerting a similar sparing effect upon protein. Its use must, however, be considered in connection with the fact that alcohol has also a toxic effect foreign to fat and carbohydrate. It is not converted into sugar by the diabetic and may then become a source of energy. It is not, however, an antiketogenic substance.”

But he is careful to add that

“The desirability of using alcohol as a food under all circumstances is doubtful; the associated danger of excessive consumption should certainly bar it as a constituent of the diet. While it can re-place in part fats and carbohydrates it does not serve as a reserve food in the sense that these foods do, for it is oxidized immediately.”

Undue indulgence in alcoholic drinks, particularly beer and whiskey, will shortly produce its harvest of fat. Surveys show that obesity is more prevalent in countries addicted to the consumption of whiskey and beer than to those nations whose people drink wine. Alcohol in general has more calories, weight for weight, than any of the three food elements. Protein contains four (4.. 1) calories to a gram, carbohydrates four (4.1) calories, fat nine (9.3) calories and alcohol ten calories.

Alcoholic drinks therefore add measurably to the caloric intake.

And as every connoisseur knows, they sharpen the appetite and thus encourage hearty eating.

I venture that if the population of the United States had- been weighed before prohibition was adopted and were weighed again today that the per capita fat of the nation would show a definite reduction. This belief I confidently assert despite our lax enforcement of the law.

It follows logically that if the law were strictly observed greater weight reduction would surely follow.