Americans binge 17 billion drinks a year, CDC says

Henrietta Strickland
March 19, 2018

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, found that 37.4 million Americans, or one out of every six adults, binge drink about once a week.

Here's a number that's hard to swallow: USA adults consume more than 17 billion alcoholic drinks during binges each year, according to a new report.

According to the CDC's study, about a sixth of US adults binge drink about once per week, consuming approximately 470 drinks annually per person, or seven drinks per binge on average. Binge drinking was defined as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women, and five or more drinks per occasion for men. Each binge drinker reported an estimated 53 binge-drinking episodes per year, or about once a week, and consumed an average of seven drinks per episode.

Other findings included that the prevalence of binge drinking was higher among people ages 18 through 34, and that binge drinkers at the lower end of the socioecnomic scale - a household income under $25,000 a year and less than a high-school education - downed substantially more binge drinks than people with higher incomes and more education.

Geographically, binge drinkers consumed the most alcohol in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Hawaii, and the least in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Washington state. People can get $20 off a safe ride by using the code SAFERIDEKY2018 in Lyft and CityScoot apps.

The highest number was in Arkansas, at 841; followed by MS, at 831; then Kentucky; then Hawaii, at 611.

Participants were asked several questions in the survey, such as how often they drank, how many drinks they consumed on average, and the most number of drinks they consumed in one sitting.

For the report, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers analyzed data on self-reported binge drinking during the past 30 days in a nationally representative study.

Once the team examined the data, they divided the findings by age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and state.

Widespread use of effective community prevention strategies, such as limiting the number of alcohol outlets in a geographic area, limiting days and hours of sale, and legal liability for outlets that illegally serve underage or intoxicated patrons, could help reduce total binge drinks and related harms.

As stated in the CDC's news release, binge drinking can potentially result in a number of risky actions, including unsafe driving, violence against other people, and irresponsible sexual behavior.

Brewer, the co-author of the study, said the results show how important a comprehensive approach is to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge-drink and the amount they drink during those episodes. More dangerously, the higher risks alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease - like heart attack and stroke - cancer and liver diseases like cirrhosis.

The federal Preventive Services Task Force also recommends alcohol screening and brief intervention by health providers during routine care, the agency said.

Public health officials recommend that people who want to consume alcohol should do so in moderation.

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