Alcohol Use Among U.S. Adults by Weight Status and Weight Loss Attempt: NHANES, 2011–2016


      Past research examining the relationship between alcohol use and weight status has not differentiated among classes of obesity. There is limited research investigating whether adults trying to lose weight consume less alcohol.


      In 2018–2019, the authors analyzed 2011–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data for nonpregnant adults aged ≥20 years with BMI ≥18.5 kg/m2. Multinomial and binomial logistic regression and linear regression were used to test associations between (1) past-year alcohol use and current weight status, differentiating among Class 1, 2, and 3 obesity, and (2) past-year weight loss attempt and alcohol use, controlling for potential confounders. Analyses were stratified by sex.


      Male current drinkers versus nondrinkers had lower odds of Class 3 obesity versus healthy weight (AOR=0.62, 95% CI=0.42, 0.92); female current drinkers versus nondrinkers had lower odds of Class 1 (AOR=0.67, 95% CI=0.50, 0.90), Class 2 (AOR=0.62, 95% CI=0.46, 0.83), and Class 3 (AOR=0.66, 95% CI=0.49, 0.89) obesity versus healthy weight. Among current drinkers, less frequent alcohol use was associated with higher odds of Class 1–3 obesity versus healthy weight in both sexes (p<0.05), whereas higher continued volume (heavier drinking) was associated with higher odds of Class 1–3 obesity versus healthy weight in females (p=0.049). Females reporting a weight loss attempt had higher odds of current drinking and more frequent heavy drinking.


      Lower frequency of alcohol use (both sexes) and higher continued volume (female adults only) are associated with higher odds of higher weight status. Female adults trying to lose weight drink more, despite guidelines suggesting reducing caloric intake for weight control.
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