Alcohol and Visceral Fat

As a personal trainer with clients in London who sometimes struggle with alcohol, I thought it would be a good time to spell out some of the health risks of excess alcohol consumption.

Many busy professionals in London unwind after work with half a bottle (or even a whole bottle) of wine at home, or meet after work in London’s many bars and pubs for a few beers before going home. The cumulative effects can be really damaging to your health.

One of the many dangers of excess alcohol consumption is that it promotes the accumulation of visceral fat around your stomach and particularly around your liver. Visceral fat is particularly dangerous because it produces toxic chemicals called cytokines, which fuel tumor growth, cardiovascular disease, premature ageing, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It also impedes liver function.

On the news yesterday it was reported that ‘pre-loading’ (drinking at home before going out to drink at bars/pubs) was on the increase among young people in the UK.

Cliff Mann, a senior A&E doctor and President of the College of Emergency Medicine, says that in 2012/13 there were 40,000 admissions of 15-29 age group for alcohol-related medical emergencies. That’s a 58% increase from 10 years ago.

He recommends making alcohol more expensive through minimum unit pricing, something that the Scottish parliament has introduced, but is already being challenged in the courts. He points to cheap supermarket alcohol as being one of the major problems.

In the news today it was reported that a pill to help binge drinkers cut down is being trialed in Scotland, and NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) say that around 600,000 heavy-drinkers in the UK will be eligible to receive this pill on prescription through the NHS.

Heavy drinker is defined as over 7.5 units a day for men, and over 5 units a day for women.

The pill is called Nalmefene, and works by blocking the pleasure receptors of the brain which respond the alcohol and cause the desire to drink in excess. The pill is to be used in conjunction with counselling.

This time last year the BBC reported on a charity in Bristol called The Southmead Project, which focused on helping problem drinkers overcome their addiction by addressing (through specialist counselling) the root cause of their problems, which in 80% of addicts is childhood abuse.

The UK’s alcohol problem is huge and growing, and it’s one of the biggest roadblocks to health and fitness in the population.

Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London.