Obesity Risk May Be Linked to Alcoholism

By Staff Writer

Alcoholics who fail to seek substance abuse help for their condition may be putting themselves and their future generations at a greater risk for obesity and the negative health consequences that come along with the disease, according to a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

A team of researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis found that a family history of addiction to alcohol increases the risk of becoming obese. The conclusion was reached after examining national survey data collected on more than 80,000 individuals.

The researchers said that the types of food that contribute the most to obesity – salty, sugary and fatty foods – activate the same reward areas of the brain. Individuals who have a genetic susceptibility in this part of the brain to developing a dependency on the reward from foods may also be more likely develop an addiction to alcohol.

This type of addiction in families is particularly harmful because the genetic underpinnings of the increased addiction and obesity risk may be passed down from generation to generation. Alcoholics who do not pursue drug rehab may be putting their offspring at greater risk for physical and mental health issues.