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A recent study conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with an unhealthy diet. People who drank higher than average amounts of alcohol ate less fruit and consumed more calories from foods high in fat and sugar.In the study of more than 15,000 adults in the United States, researchers found that as alcohoicl beverage consumption increased, scores on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) decreased. The HEI is a measure of how well a person’s diet conforms to federal dietary guidance.The study did not determine the cause of this association, but raised questions about the potential for the combination of alcohol abuse and poor dietary habits to further increase health risks.
NIAAA acting Director Kenneth R. Warren says that “ heavy drinking and dietary factors have independently been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and other chronic health problems.”This study follows a previous study done by Dr. Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D, an epidemiologist in NIAAA’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, which showed that people who drink the largest quantities of alcohol also have the poorest quality diets.
Dr. Breslow said at the time of the previous study, “the purpose of our study was to determine the association between drinking patterns and diet quality in the U.S. population.” After this most recent study, she noted, “Our findings underscore the importance of moderation for individuals who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, and a greater awareness of healthy food choices.”According to the NIAAA, most of the treatments in the U.S. for alcoholism have been behavioral in nature and attempt to change habits or modify behavior.Ways to Combat Alcoholism by Modifying BehaviorLearn how to have fun without drinkingStay away from temptation (bars, parties where alcohol is served, etc.)Seek support from family and friendsUtilize support groups such as AAEat a healthy diet. Eating healthy can curb cravings for alcoholIndividual counseling and therapyThough science has not yet developed a magic pill to cure alcoholism, there are a few pharmacological treatments for alcoholism. There are currently three medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA) for the treatment of alcohol dependence and abuse. Medications to Help Combat AlcoholismNaltrexone (also known as Revia)Nalmefene (also known as Revex)Ant abuse (also known as disulfiram)In a recent three year study of 1383 patients, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, it was shown that patients who received specialized alcohol abuse counseling, naltrexone, or both, had the best outcomes after 16 weeks of outpatient treatment. These recent studies demonstrate the need for quality health education and treatment for those who have become alcohol dependent. The studies point to the possibility that effective treatment for alcoholism will one day be as widely available as are current treatments for nicotine dependence.
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