A Big Number for US Binge-Drinkers: 17.5B

That's how many drinks they throw back each year, the CDC reports
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2018 7:11 AM CDT
Drinks Thrown Back by US Binge-Drinkers: 17.5B Annually
Seven drinks per episode is the average for binge drinkers.   (Getty Images/marvelousform)

If we're going by the numbers, the latest one emerging from the CDC is a big one: 17.5 billion, signifying the number of binge drinks quaffed annually by US adults during such binges, per Live Science. That figure, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, comes from the 37 million adults—about 17% of the total adult population—who copped to binge drinking, which equates to four drinks in one sitting for women, five for men. That ends up being 470 binge drinks or so per binge drinker each year, with a binge-drinking episode taking place on average once a week and the number of drinks consumed per episode coming in at an average of seven. "This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others," study lead author Robert Brewer says in an accompanying release.

Researchers arrived at these numbers via monthly interviews in 2015 with more than 400,000 US adults about their binge-drinking habits; those numbers were then extrapolated to come up with annual figures. Men were responsible for downing about 80% of the binge drinks, and the habit was most prevalent among adults ages 18 to 34. However, more than half of all binge drinks consumed were tied back to adults ages 35 and older. The four states with the most binge-drinking: Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Hawaii. To reduce binge drinking—which can lead to DUIs, violent behavior, heart disease, liver issues, and cancer—researchers endorse a "comprehensive approach" that includes intervention by health care professionals and limiting the availability of alcoholic beverages within communities. (The 10 drunkest states are here.)

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