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Beer-drinking rats count calories better than many people, UF researchers say

tively large amounts of alcohol, and to see if they could still manage calories."

In the current study, UF researchers made alcohol more palatable by adding it to decarbonated, non-alcoholic beer, which also allows scientists to precisely measure the alcohol content. In a separate test they presented the alcohol mixed into a sweet gelatin. Both male and female rats cut back on their calories from food and maintained a consistent intake of overall calories during the experiments, even with access to plenty of food, fresh water and palatable alcohol.

"The important thing is that the rats were able to accurately compensate for their calories when they electively consumed alcohol," said Allen Levine, head director of the Minnesota Obesity Center and a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "But people have access to a tremendous variety of foods, and because of that, we don't compensate well. We have to use volitional control -- willpower -- to control our caloric consumption. This isn't a big deal for some people, but for others, who might be addicted to alcohol or food, it is a problem."

Additional investigation of the long-term effects of alcoholic nutrients in rats may shed more light on the internal and external signals that regulate caloric intake in humans, researchers say. But until then, the battle of wills this Sunday won't just be on the playing field, but in the buffet lines.


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Contact: John Pastor
jpastor@vpha.health.ufl.edu
352-392-3845
University of Florida
1-Feb-2005


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