CDC: Adult binge drinkers collectively consume 17.5 billion drinks a year


U.S. adults consumed approximately 470 binge drinks per drinker in 2015 for a total of 17.5 billion binge drinks, according to findings recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Binge drinking occurs when a man has five or more drinks per 2-hour occasion, and when a woman has four or more drinks per 2-hour occasion, according to the researchers.

“There are important disparities in binge drinking at the state and national levels based on sociodemographic characteristics (eg, race/ethnicity, education, and income) that are not well characterized by any single binge-drinking measure,” Dafna Kanny, PhD, of the CDC’s division of population health, and colleagues wrote.

“A comprehensive measure of binge drinking is … needed to more fully characterize the public health impact of this behavior, including the risk of binge-drinking–related harms, which typically increases with the number of drinks consumed; and to plan and evaluate evidence–based binge-drinking prevention programs and policies in states and communities,” they added.

Researchers reviewed Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 408,800 respondents, including those not legally old enough to drink, in all states and Washington, D.C.

Findings included:

  • Each of the 37.4 million binge drinkers reported about one binge-drinking occasion a week consisting of seven drinks, resulting in a total of 17.5 billion binge drinks consumed per year.
  • Binge drinkers consumed the most alcohol in Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky and Mississippi, and the least in Washington, D.C, New Jersey, New York and Washington state.
  • Binge drinkers with less than $25,000 in annual household income and less than a high school diploma drank substantially more binge drinks annually than those with higher incomes and educational levels.
  • More than 50% of binge drinks consumed annually were by those aged older than 35 years.
  • Binge drinking occurred more commonly among those aged 18 to 34 years.
  • Men consumed about four in five binge drinks.

Researchers added that more than 44,000 alcohol-attributable deaths and 75% of the $249 billion in economic costs related to excessive drinking in the U.S. per year is linked to binge drinking.

Alcohol

U.S. adults consumed approximately 470 binge drinks per drinker in 2015 for a total of 17.5 billion binge drinks, according to findings recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Source:Shutterstock

“Ensuring access to effective treatment will not be sufficient to decrease harms from excessive drinking at the population level,” Kanny and colleagues wrote. “Therefore, strategies to address excessive drinking must also include, in addition to clinically based strategies (eg, screening and brief interventions), evidence-based policies, such as those recommended by The Community Preventive Services Task Force. These include increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density and commercial host liability.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends alcohol screening and brief intervention by health care providers, according to the release. The American Academy of Family Physicians has a manual on its website to help primary care providers identify and treat patients with alcohol use disorders. – by Janel Miller

References: Task Force on Community Prevention Services. “Preventing excessive alcohol consumption. In: The Guide to Community Preventive Services.” https://www.thecommunityguide.org/. Accessed March 16, 2018.

American Academy of Family Physicians. “Addressing alcohol use practice manual” https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/patient_care/alcohol/alcohol-manual.pdf. Accessed March 16, 2018.

Disclosure:
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.



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