Health Magazine

Binge Drinking in America

By Dirkh @dirk57

Binge Drinking in AmericaAnd the numbers are… fuzzy.
Public health officials in the UK have been wringing their hands for some time now over perceived rates of binge drinking among the populace. In a 2010 survey of 27,000 Europeans by the official polling agency of the EU, binge drinking in the UK—defined as five or more drinks in one, er, binge—clocked in at a rate of 34%, compared to an EU average of 29%. Predictably, the highest rate of UK binge drinking was found in people between the ages of 15 and 24. This still lagged well behind the Irish (44%) and the Romanians (39%). Scant comfort, perhaps, given the historical role drinking has played in those two cultures, but still, clearly, the British and the rest of the UK are above-average drinkers.
Or are they? And what about the U.S. How do we rank? For comparative purposes, we can use the “Vital Signs” survey in the United States from 2010, performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, results of which are pictured above. Using almost the same criteria for binge drinking—five drinks at a sitting for men, four drinks for women—the study concludes that the “overall prevalence of binge drinking was 17.1%. Among binge drinkers, the frequency of binge drinking was 4.4 episodes per month, and the intensity was 7.9 drinks on occasion.”
By the CDC’s definition, the heaviest binge drinking in America takes place in the Midwest, parts of New England, D.C., and Alaska. Survey respondents with an income in excess of $75,000 were the most serious bingers (20.2%), but those making under $25,000 binged more often and had more drinks per binge than other groups, the report says. And binge drinking is about twice as prevalent among men. Binge drinking, the survey concludes, is reported by one of every six U.S. adults.
Even so, it appears that the U.S. does not have the same level of binge drinking as the UK. However, astute readers have no doubt noticed that actual binge drinkers in the U.S. were consuming almost 8 drinks per bout, well above the official mark of four or five drinks at one time. The problem is that there is no internationally agreed upon definition of binge drinking. A 2010 fact sheet from the UK’s Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) maintains that “drinking surveys normally define binge drinkers as men consuming at least eight, and women at least six standard units of alcohol in a single day, that is, double the maximum recommended ‘safe limit’ for men and women respectively.”
But referring to binge drinking as “high intake of alcohol in a single drinking occasion” is misleading, says IAS. The problem is biological: “Because of individual variations in, for example, body weight and alcohol tolerance, as well as factors such as speed of consumption, there is not a simple, consistent correlation between the number of units consumed, their resulting blood alcohol level and the subjective effects on the drinker.”
Furthermore, the report charges that “researchers have criticized the term ‘binge drinking’ as unclear, politically charged and therefore, unhelpful in that many (young) people do not identify themselves as binge drinkers because, despite exceeding the number of drinks officially used to define bingeing, they drink at a slow enough pace to avoid getting seriously drunk.”
There you have it. As currently defined and measured, binge drinking is a relatively useless metric for assessing a population’s alcohol habits. “The different definitions employed need to be taken into account in understanding surveys of drinking behavior and calculations of how many binge drinkers there are in the population,” as the UK report wisely puts it. Take the above chart with a few grains of salt.
Photo Credit: CDC

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor and Call to Mutual Respect Betwee...

    Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor Call Mutual Respect Between Catholic Leaders LGBTQ Community: Critical Commentary

    I have not read Father James Martin's new book Building a Bridge, which calls on the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church to collaborate with the LGBTQ... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   William Lindsey
  • Caution: This Can Cause Addiction

    Caution: This Cause Addiction

    I opened my low-carb/keto clinic with Nurse Sylvie in February 2017, inside the medical clinic where I do my regular general practice. To get people to enroll,... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Dietdoctor
  • Review - Vichy Mineral 89 Skin Fortifying Daily Booster

    I'm always battling with dry and dehydrated skin.. even when I do nothing different, my skin will... Click for Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Chantana
  • Talk Show Host: Not Here to Make Friends

    Talk Show Host: Here Make Friends

    photo: Harley Haskett Toronto based Talk Show Host are quick to release a new EP. Not Here to Make Friends sounds cheerful and angry at the same time,... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Hctf
  • The Human Design... Not All Bad!

    Human Design... Bad!

    Whatever or whoever it was that designed the human, had to have been at the least, a sadist. Now the design isn’t all that bad, it’s just that there were a few... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Skip1957
  • Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    We all know what a Sundae is, and I am sure we have all secretly had one at some stage in our lives even those of us who are now on the healthy no sugar […] Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Shadesofcinnamon
  • Konkani Style, Hog Plum Pickle…

    Konkani Style, Plum Pickle…

    Summer is full of Sun, fun, travel yumminess.. For those who love Mangoes its the season.. The kids have vacations... The markets are filled with an amazing... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Anithanayak

Paperblog Hot Topics