Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 275–282 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Glycemic Control Among Patients with Diabetes: The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry

  • Ameena T. AhmedEmail author
  • Andrew J. Karter
  • E. Margaret Warton
  • Jennifer U. Doan
  • Constance M. Weisner
Original Article



Alcohol consumption is a common behavior. Little is known about the relationship between alcohol consumption and glycemic control among people with diabetes.


To evaluate the association between alcohol consumption and glycemic control.


Survey follow-up study, 1994–1997, among Kaiser Permanente Northern California members.


38,564 adult diabetes patients.


Self-reported alcohol consumption, and hemoglobin A1C (A1C), assessed within 1 year of survey date. Linear regression of A1C by alcohol consumption was performed, adjusted for sociodemographic variables, clinical variables, and diabetes disease severity. Least squares means estimates were derived.


In multivariate-adjusted models, A1C values were 8.88 (lifetime abstainers), 8.79 (former drinkers), 8.90 (<0.1 drink/day), 8.71 (0.1–0.9 drink/day), 8.51 (1–1.9 drinks/day), 8.39 (2–2.9 drinks/day), and 8.47 (≥3 drinks/day). Alcohol consumption was linearly (p < 0.001) and inversely (p = 0.001) associated with A1C among diabetes patients.


Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with glycemic control among diabetes patients. This supports current clinical guidelines for moderate levels of alcohol consumption among diabetes patients. As glycemic control affects incidence of complications of diabetes, the lower A1C levels associated with moderate alcohol consumption may translate into lower risk for complications.

Key words

diabetes alcohol consumption hemoglobin A1C 



The authors thank Drs. Joe Selby and Robert Lipton for their helpful suggestions. This study was funded by NIAAA (R21 AA015721-01A1) and by the Kaiser Community Benefits Fund. Preliminary study findings were presented in abstract form at the Addictions Health Services Research Conference, October 23–25, 2006, Little Rock, AK.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ameena T. Ahmed
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew J. Karter
    • 1
  • E. Margaret Warton
    • 1
  • Jennifer U. Doan
    • 2
  • Constance M. Weisner
    • 1
  1. 1.Kaiser Permanente Division of ResearchOaklandUSA
  2. 2.Permanente Medical GroupMilpitasUSA

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