Who doesn't love a new study about drinking? You can feel superior to all those other sloppy drunks, until you read the fine print and realize that what you think of as a normal glass of wine actually counts as five drinks or whatever. Here to make you feel briefly good about yourself and then bad again are five fun facts from the CDC's freshly-released study on Americans' binge-drinking habits.
The CDC conducted a random telephone survey, wherein they asked respondents how many times they'd had four drinks (for women) or five drinks (for men) in one sitting in the last 30 days. Of 48 states and the District of Columbia (South Dakota and Tennessee apparently did not want us knowing how much they drink), Wisconsin had the highest prevalence of binge drinkers, with 25.6% of respondents reporting a binge in the last month. Wisconsin also led in "binge intensity" (which is my band), with an average of nine drinks per binge (the lowest intensity was in DC, where lightweight bingers stop at six).
The highest frequency of binge-drinking was reported by people over 65. But the highest intensity was among 18-34-year-olds. Sort of a tortoise and the hare situation, I guess?
20.2% of people with an annual household income of $75,000 or above reported binge-drinking in the last month, compared with just 16.2% of those making less than $25,000. But under-25k folks had a higher intensity of binging, downing 8.5 drinks per binge compared to the richies' 7.2. So in a head-to-head matchup, the 99% could probably drink the 1% under the table.
From the study text:
The higher prevalence of binge drinking in 2010 (17.1%), compared with 2009 (15.2%) [...], likely resulted from inclusion of cellular telephone respondents in the 2010 developmental BRFSS dataset. Cellular telephone–only users typically are young (aged 18–34 years) and male [...]; both groups tend to report a higher prevalence of binge drinking. Even after adjusting for age, cellular telephone respondents have a higher prevalence of binge drinking than landline respondents [...]. These findings confirm the importance of increasing the number of cellular telephone respondents in the BRFSS to assess binge drinking and related harms more accurately.
The findings also suggest a need for further research into drunk-texting.
The study found that overall, 17.1% of Americans reported a drinking binge in the last 30 days. However, in addition to undercounting all those drunken cell-phone users, the study organizers also didn't call anyone living on college campuses. Thus they ignored a wide swath of America's tailgaters and beer-pong players. The real prevalence of binge drinking is probably a lot higher.
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