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Can’t Stop Eating? Blame the Booze

A new study finds a link between increased appetite and alcohol intake. Heck, I could have saved them the trouble. Didn’t any of these researchers go to college? Drinking, late night pizza deliveries and runs to the diner (cheese fries with gravy) go together like Crosby, Stills and Nash.

One would think after several pints of really cheap beer, the stomach would shut down and say, “No, thank you. If you put one more thing in your mouth, I’m going to revolt.” But, the opposite is usually true. More alcohol, more appetite – why?

While studying IF alcohol makes you eat more may have been redundant, researchers were able to get some information on why. They studied 35 women, and through an IV, thereby bypassing their stomach, gave them alcohol on one day and a placebo on another. Then they gave them lunch. I KNOW! I want to try this with my friends too! Additionally, and here is the part, which would be really difficult to reproduce in your kitchen, the women received MRIs of the brain.

The majority of the women ate more with the alcohol infusion. The MRIs revealed increased activity in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain which controls everything from sex drive to hunger, to food odors after the alcohol. The conclusion is this area of the brain may increase sensitivity to food cues after drinking.

You are now thinking, “I could have told you that!” But, could you have said it was the hypothalamus? Studies like this one are important, not only because they prove a theory, but because they offer medical insight as to the “why”. Two-thirds of adults in America drink, and two-thirds of adults in America are also overweight. Understanding the science behind eating can ultimately help find some answers to the obesity epidemic.

Keep this study in mind, and the next time you are going out to dinner, avoid the apertif and go for the after dinner drink instead.

About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.

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