CDC study reports binge drinking on rise (US)


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CDC study reports binge drinking on rise (US)

From: Miles Townes

Date: 1/9/2003

Time: 9:33:42 AM

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Media Advisory: To contact Timothy S. Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., call Mary Kay Sones at 770/488-5131 or email [email protected].


CHICAGO – Binge drinking is common in most segments of society in the U.S., according to a study in the January 1 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to background information in the article, alcohol abuse, which kills approximately 100,000 Americans annually, is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Binge drinking, generally defined as the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages on 1 occasion, generally results in acute impairment and causes a substantial fraction of all alcohol-related deaths. Adverse health effects specifically associated with binge drinking include unintentional injuries (e.g., motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, hypothermia, and burns); suicide, alcohol poisoning, hypertension, acute myocardial infarction, acute gastritis, pancreatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, meningitis, and poor control of diabetes. Reports have indicated that binge drinking may be increasing in the United States.

Timothy S. Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, conducted a study to quantify episodes of binge drinking among U.S. adults in 1993 to 2001 and to characterize adult binge drinkers. The study used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a random-digit telephone survey of adults aged 18 years or older that is conducted annually in all states. The sample size ranged from 102,263 in 1993 to 212,510 in 2001.

The researchers found: “Between 1993 and 2001, the total number of binge-drinking episodes among U.S. adults increased from approximately 1.2 billion to 1.5 billion; during this time, binge-drinking episodes per person per year increased by 17 percent (from 6.3 to 7.4). Between 1995 and 2001, binge-drinking episodes per person per year increased by 35 percent. Men accounted for 81 percent of binge-drinking episodes in the study years. Although rates of binge-drinking episodes were highest among those aged 18 to 25 years, 69 percent of binge-drinking episodes during the study period occurred among those aged 26 or older.

“Overall, 47 percent of binge-drinking episodes occurred among otherwise moderate (i.e., non-heavy) drinkers, and 73 percent of all binge drinkers were moderate drinkers. Binge drinkers were 14 times more likely to drive while impaired by alcohol compared with non-binge drinkers. There were substantial state and regional differences in per capita binge-drinking episodes.”

The researchers recommend that effective interventions be adopted to reduce binge drinking and alcohol-impaired driving and that adults and adolescents should be screened by physicians for alcohol abuse.

“For public health or clinical interventions to be effective in reducing binge drinking, significant social obstacles to those interventions also need to be acknowledged and addressed. One of these is the widespread marketing of beer and wine via television and print media, where a disproportionate share of the audience may be below the legal drinking age and particularly likely to binge drink. Another obstacle is that much of the general public considers alcohol intoxication to be either humorous or a rite of passage. Were public attitudes to become less accepting of the consequences of binge drinking, the chances of successfully combating its harmful effects would likely improve,” the authors conclude.

(JAMA. 2003; 289:70-75. Available post-embargo at


For More Information: Contact the JAMA/Archives Media Relations Department at 312/464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail: [email protected].

Danny Chun

Communications Director

A Matter of Degree

American Medical Association

Office of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse

515 North State Street

Chicago, IL 60610

312-464-4532 (O)

312-464-4024 (fax)

Last changed: January 09, 2003

CDC study reports binge drinking on rise (US)
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