A new study has concluded that having a drink before dinner may actually make some people eat more. apparently a reaction in the brain in particular, the hypothalamus, and that helps people to focus more on food aromas versus other types of orders.
“The joke is, every restaurant knows that if they give you a drink first, you’ll eat more,” said one of the study’s authors, Robert Considine, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis
The hypothalamus produces hormones that help govern various body functions, including hunger. And alcohol, Considine said, “seemed to direct the hypothalamus to pay more attention to food.”
All this doesn’t mean that people watching their weight can’t enjoy a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage with dinner.
Martin Binks, an obesity researcher who wasn’t involved in the study, pointed to several reasons: most of the time, alcohol increased study participants’ food intake by only a small amount; one-third actually ate less; and the whole study group was in the normal-weight range.
“We know that in people who are obese, the brain tends to respond differently [to food], versus non-obese people,” said Binks, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas.
For the study researchers had 35 healthy women visit the lab over the course of two days. On one day the women received an infusion of alcohol and on the other an infusion of plain sailine.
Overall, the researchers found, the women showed less brain activity in response to non-food odors after they’d received an alcohol infusion. Instead, the hypothalamus appeared more interested in food scents.
“We think we’d see similar results in men, but we don’t know that yet,” he said.