What Makes Junk Food Better When You’re Drunk?

By Victoria Kim 01/12/16

Researchers examined the link between alcohol consumption and the loss of self-control.


It’s no secret that junk food and alcohol go together like chicken and waffles, or whatever it is that you like to indulge in at two in the morning after a night of drinking. It’s also no secret that alcohol has a stimulating effect on appetite.

Dr. Paul Christiansen from the University of Liverpool has studied this phenomenon, detailed in new research published in the journal Health Psychology, focusing on whether the effects of alcohol on food intake are the result of impairment of self-control.

The study participants were made up of 60 undergraduate females who were divided into two groups—those who were given a vodka-lemonade cocktail and those who were given a non-alcoholic lemonade drink, disguised as a cocktail which was achieved by spritzing vodka mist on the surface.

The participants were asked to fill out a food craving questionnaire, then complete a color test that served as a decoy of sorts. After the test, participants were given chocolate chip cookies on a plate and told they could eat as little or as much as they wanted.

Lo and behold, the participants who drank alcohol ate more cookies than the participants who drank the placebo mocktail. Dr. Christiansen said inhibitory control is the more influential factor when it comes to pigging out when drunk. “The study suggests that the reason some of the women ate more cookies following alcohol was because their inhibitory control was impaired, not because they experienced heightened cravings,” said Dr. Christiansen.

He notes, however, that the impaired effect did not apply to the participants who were extra vigilant about their diets. Dr. Christiansen noted that these “restrained eaters” did not consume more cookies, despite demonstrating impaired performance on the color test.

Dr. Christiansen notes that more research is needed in further exploring the relationship between alcohol and food intake, especially by including male participants. “These findings highlight the role of alcohol consumption as a contributor to weight gain and suggest that further research into the role of restraint in alcohol-induced food consumption is needed,” said Dr. Christiansen.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr