1 in 6 Americans Is a Binge Drinker

Nation's heaviest boozers are in Wisconsin, study finds

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 11, 2012 12:56 AM CST | Updated Jan 11, 2012 6:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Federal health officials have released their most detailed study yet of America's binge drinkers—and if you're a college-educated, high-earning young white man from Wisconsin, you may already be drunk by the time you read this. Researchers found that 38 million Americans, roughly a sixth of the adult population, are binge drinkers who over-indulge an average of 4.4 times a month, Bloomberg reports. A binge was defined as five or more drinks in the space of two hours for men, and four or more drinks for women.

Wisconsin had the highest percentage of binge drinkers, at 25.6%, and the heaviest sessions, with an average of nine drinks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fewer than a fifth of binge drinkers are alcoholics, but binging is responsible for 80,000 deaths in the US every year, making it the country's third most common cause of preventable death, health officials say.

"We’re talking about a risk behavior that’s quite widespread in the population,” an epidemiologist at the CDC says, “and where people have the impression it’s not such a bad thing to do.”   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
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