Over-65s are frequent binge drinkers: US study

January 10, 2012

Binge drinking is more common in the United States than previously thought, particularly among young adults, though the most frequent offenders are over 65, said a US government study on Tuesday.

One in six Americans, or 17.1 percent of the population, binge drinks, defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in a sitting for men and four or more among women, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest data for 2010 is an increase over the CDC's report on the same topic for 2009, which said about 15 percent of US adults, or 33 million Americans, binge drink, a rate that had stayed the same for more than 15 years.

While the most common age group among the 38 million American who binge drink was 18-34, those who reported doing it most often were over 65, said the CDC's Vital Signs report, which also warned of the health and safety risks of high alcohol use.

Seniors who binge drink reported doing so 5.5 times per month, compared to an average of four times a month among the rest of the binge-drinking population.

The 18-24 age group had the highest amount of binge drinkers (28.2 percent) in their ranks and tended to drink the most -- 9.3 drinks -- in each setting. The age group 25-34 was a close second (27.9 percent).

"Binge drinking by adults has a huge public health impact, and influences the drinking behavior of underage youth by the example it sets," said CDC substance abuse and mental health services administrator Pamela Hyde.

"We need to reduce binge drinking by adults to prevent the immediate and long-term effects it has on the health of adults and youth."

The data was collected by a randomized phone survey in 48 states and the US capital region. This year, it also included cell phones, which likely resulted in a higher number of young people's participation.

The survey found that binge drinking was most common among people who earned $75,000 or more a year in household income, but those who earned less than $25,000 a year went on binges more frequently.

Low-income binge drinkers tended to consume excessive alcohol five times per month and 8.5 drinks each time.

Whites and Hispanics were more likely to binge drink than blacks. Also, men were more likely to binge drink than women.

"Binge drinking causes more than half of the 80,000 deaths and three quarters of the $223.5 billion in economic costs caused by excessive drinking," said the report.

"Drinking too much contributes to over 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually-transmitted diseases."

The CDC said that raising the price of alcohol, limiting the days and hours when it can be sold, and restricting the number of liquor licenses offered in a given geographic area could help cut down on binge drinking.

Explore further: CDC: Add $2 per drink for US excessive drinking

More information: CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns

Related Stories

CDC: Add $2 per drink for US excessive drinking

October 17, 2011
(AP) -- The toll of excessive drinking works out to about $2 per drink, in terms of medical expenses and other costs to society, according to a new federal research.

Binge drinking by freshman women tied to sexual assault risk, according to new research

December 8, 2011
Many young women who steer clear of alcohol while they're in high school may change their ways once they go off to college. And those who take up binge drinking may be at relatively high risk of sexual assault, according ...

Recommended for you

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Duude
not rated yet Jan 10, 2012
Binge drinking for Seniors is tantamount to Russian Roulette.
FrankHerbert
4 / 5 (8) Jan 10, 2012
What happened to personal responsibility? Why should I have to pay for old @ssholes to drink themselves into oblivion?

Maybe we should have breathalyzers at the polls and anytime someone presents their medicare card?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.