In the classic comedy movie about college and fraternity life “Animal House” starring John Belushi, the dean of the school tells Flounder that “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son.” The he puts the frat house on “double secret probation.”
I’ve always known that alcohol carries a lot of “empty” calories. The beer barons know this as well because Bud and Miller light have probably exceeded sales of their regular beers for a number of years now. But the weight gain associated with drinking alcohol my also be visa versa. Having a family history of alcoholism may also predispose you to becoming overweight.
According to Medical News Today:
“Addiction researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a risk for alcoholism also may put individuals at risk for obesity. The researchers noted that the association between a family history of alcoholism and obesity risk has become more pronounced in recent years.”
For some reason both men and women with both a family risk for alcoholism were more likely to be obese in 2002 than in 1992. The researchers used the word “cross-heritable” which essentially means that if you are at risk of getting one condition then you are also at risk of getting another one. Take alcoholism and drug abuse. Most people who abuse drugs also drink heavily. Maybe that’s why a lot of people say that marijuana and alcohol are “gateway drugs.”
But the link between alcohol and obesity is not just due to genetics but also to the environment. In the ten years between 1992 and 2002, it’s the environment that has changed and not people’s genes. The fact that obesity has doubled in the past few decades from 15 percent to 33 percent of the total population of the United States may have something to do with it as well.
Writing in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the researchers note that folks that have a family history of alcoholism may also have an increased risk of obesity. This applies more to women subjects than to men.
The researchers speculate that changes in the types of food that we eat (more fats, salt, sugars, and proteins and less fresh fruits and vegetables) may interact with the same areas of the brain as drugs, including alcohol. These areas of the brain are known as the “reward centers.” It seems that not only do we crave junk foods when we get the “munchies” after smoking marijuana, but we also must be washing down a lot of those snacks and junk food with a lot of beer.
Those with a predisposition towards alcoholism may get greater satisfaction in these centers of the brain from overeating that people without that inherited risk. Looks like old Flounder faces a triple threat later in life.