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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: America's Drinking Binge
Tara Parker-Pope
January 13, 2012
New York Times (01.11.12) - Friday, January 13, 2012

One in six Americans binge drink about four times a month, a new CDC report shows. CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women, and five or more drinks per occasion for men. The one-in-six consumed an average of eight drinks per binge, said the report based on a 2010 survey of 457,677 Americans.

A large body of evidence shows binge drinking is associated with health risks such as STDs, injuries, violence, and car accidents, said report co-author Dr. Robert Brewer, head of CDC's alcohol program.

Younger people tend to consume more in a sitting, while the fewer older adults who binge did so more frequently. Of adults ages 18-24, 28 percent reported binge drinking, averaging four days per month. The young averaged 9.3 drinks per binge. About 13 percent of people ages 45-64 reported binging about five times a month, with about seven drinks in a sitting. Of people age 65 and older, about 4 percent report regular binge drinking, averaging 5.5 times a month.

Of men, 23.2 percent reported a binge of about nine drinks in the past month, compared with 11.4 percent of women who averaged 5.9 drinks per binge. Binge drinking prevalence rose with household income: Binges were reported by about 20 percent of people earning $75,000+ annually. However, people earning less binged more frequently and consumed more per sitting. Binge drinking accounts for more than half of US alcohol consumed by adults, and 90 percent consumed by youths.

"It's not just the usual suspects who are binge drinking," Brewer said. "This is not just a problem of high school kids and college students. It's a problem across the lifespan." The report, "Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Prevalence, Frequency, and Intensity Among Adults - United States, 2010," was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2012;61(01):14-19).