Reduction of alcohol-induced performance impairment by prior ingestion of food


Behavioural Sciences Group, 4 Lilybank Gardens, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK


The study examined the effectiveness of eating a meal prior to drinking alcohol as a means of reducing both peak blood alcohol level (BAL) and alcohol-induced performance impairment. In a separate-groups design, 133 male volunteers either fasted or received a standard meal of fixed calorific value and composition. Alcohol was then administered as placebo or at doses to achieve a BAL of 0, 20, 40 or 80 mg/100 ml. Subjects performed a dual task of primary tracking and secondary reaction time, short-term memory, five-choice reaction time and critical flicker fusion. Alcohol significantly impaired dual task performance but impairment was significantly reduced for those subjects who had eaten beforehand. BAL was also significantly lower in such subjects. It was concluded that prior ingestion of food might reduce the adverse effects of alcoholic intoxication, although performance remained impaired relative to the sober state.