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Research Christmas 2010: Research

Effect on gastric function and symptoms of drinking wine, black tea, or schnapps with a Swiss cheese fondue: randomised controlled crossover trial

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 15 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6731
  1. Henriette Heinrich, clinical research fellow1,
  2. Oliver Goetze, attending physician1,
  3. Dieter Menne, statistician2,
  4. Peter X Iten, professor of legal medicine3,
  5. Heiko Fruehauf, attending physician1,
  6. Stephan R Vavricka, attending physician1,
  7. Werner Schwizer, senior reseacher14,
  8. Michael Fried, head of division and professor of gastroenterology14,
  9. Mark Fox, attending physician and clinical associate professor14
  1. 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2Menne Biomed, Tuebingen, Germany
  3. 3Division of Legal Medicine, University Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4Zurich Integrative Human Physiology Group, University of Zurich
  1. Correspondence to: M Fox, NIHR Biomedical Research Unit, Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK{at}
  • Accepted 19 November 2010


Objective To compare the effects of drinking white wine or black tea with Swiss cheese fondue followed by a shot of cherry schnapps on gastric emptying, appetite, and abdominal symptoms.

Design Randomised controlled crossover study.

Participants 20 healthy adults (14 men) aged 23-58.

Interventions Cheese fondue (3260 kJ, 32% fat) labelled with 150 mg sodium 13Carbon-octanoate was consumed with 300 ml of white wine (13%, 40 g alcohol) or black tea in randomised order, followed by 20 ml schnapps (40%, 8 g alcohol) or water in randomised order.

Main outcome measures Cumulative percentage dose of 13C substrate recovered over four hours (higher values indicate faster gastric emptying) and appetite and dyspeptic symptoms (visual analogue scales).

Results Gastric emptying was significantly faster when fondue was consumed with tea or water than with wine or schnapps (cumulative percentage dose of 13C recovered 18.1%, 95% confidence interval 15.2% to 20.9% v 7.4%, 4.6% to 10.3%; P<0.001). An inverse dose-response relation between alcohol intake and gastric emptying was evident. Appetite was similar with consumption of wine or tea (difference 0.11, −0.12 to 0.34; P=0.35), but reduced if both wine and schnapps were consumed (difference −0.40, −0.01 to −0.79; P<0.046). No difference in dyspeptic symptoms was present.

Conclusions Gastric emptying after a Swiss cheese fondue is noticeably slower and appetite suppressed if consumed with higher doses of alcohol. This effect was not associated with dyspeptic symptoms.

Trial registration NCT00943696.


  • We thank Brigitte Gabathuler and Diana Jovanovic in the gastrointestinal physiology laboratory, University Hospital Zurich, for their assistance.

  • Contributors: All authors had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. HH designed the study, wrote the protocol, recruited participants, collected the data, and prepared the manuscript. OG designed the study and the breath test, wrote the protocol, and analysed the data. DM managed the data and did the statistical analysis. PXI carried out the alcohol breath test and analysis and provided scientific advice. HF and SV designed the study and recruited participants. WS and MF provided scientific advice and reviewed the manuscript. MFox analysed the data and prepared the manuscript. He is guarantor.

  • Funding: This study was supported by a donation of cash from Coop Foods (Basel, Switzerland), and study materials from Landert Keramik (Embrach, Switzerland) and Etter Kirsch (Zug, Switzerland). All donations were less than $1000 and were provided as an unlimited grant for research. The funders had no contribution to the study design; collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; writing of the report; or the decision to submit the article for publication.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no authors had financial support for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous 3 years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work. The authors confirm their independence from the funders.

  • Ethical approval: This study was approved by the Zurich University Hospital research ethics committee.

  • Data sharing: Full study data including statistical analysis and technical appendix are available from the corresponding author at{at}

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