Intended for healthcare professionals


Prospective study of alcohol drinking patterns and coronary heart disease in women and men

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1244

Association of alcohol intake with dietary and anthropometric markers of cardiovascular risk among UK female university student drinkers; results of a pilot study.

Central adiposity is viewed as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and
coronary heart disease (CHD). This effect is believed to be independent of
total obesity (Han et al., 1996; Zhu et al., 2002). The impact of alcohol
consumption on body fat distribution remains uncertain but research
identifies the potential importance of gender and pattern of consumption
as influential factors (Cigolini et al., 1996; Leite and Nicolosi, 2006).
Life stage may also be relevant. This pilot study investigated dietary and
anthropometric markers of cardiovascular disease in young females from a
population group (university students) in which binge drinking is often
the preferred method of alcohol consumption.

Inclusion criteria were consumption of alcohol at least once per
month and being a non-smoker. Each participant was instructed to keep a
(non-weighed) 7-day food intake diary and had her waist circumference (cm)
and BMI (kg/m2) measured. Macronutrient and alcohol intake for each
participant were derived using Compeat 5 software. In addition, responses
to questions relating to typical weekly alcohol intake and pattern of
consumption were recorded.

Among participants (n=18; mean age 22.1, SD = 2.66 years ), using the
criterion of exceeding one half of the weekly allowance of alcohol (7
units) in one session to define binge drinking, 50% binge drank during
the week of the study, four of them more than once, 39% exceeded weekly
health guidelines. Significant correlations existed between mean daily
intake of alcohol (mean =17.8, SD= 16.4g) and

(i) waist circumference (mean = 72.6, SD = 4.9cm). (Pearson correlation
coefficient, r = 0.79, p = 0.01.

(ii) BMI (mean = 22.90, SD = 2.55 kg/m2). (Pearson correlation
coefficient, r = 0.546, p = 0.05).

(iii) saturated fat intake (mean = 25.33, SD = 7.25g) (Pearson
correlation coefficient = 0.49, p=0.04).

Binge drinkers had a significantly greater waist circumference than
those who did not binge drink in the week of the study (independent t-
test; p = 0.012).

The pattern of drinking favoured by some young female students, is
associated with increased central adiposity and as a consequence may have
an impact on their risk of developing CHD in later life.


Cigolini M, Targher G, Bergamo Andreis IA, Tonoli M, Filippi F, Muggeo M
& De Sandre G (1996) Moderate alcohol consumption and its relation to
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Han TS, van Leer EM, Seidell JC & Lean ME. (1996) Waist circumference
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Zhu S, Wang Z, Heshka S, Heo M, Faith MS & Heymsfield SB (2002) Waist
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Leite MLC & Nicolosi A (2006) Lifestyle correlates of anthropometric
estimates of body adiposity in an Italian middle-aged and elderly
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Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 September 2006
Jan S Gill
Senior Lecturer
Sara Smith and Isobel Davidson.
Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, EH12 8TS.