The Los Angeles Times, in an article by Reuters, is reporting this evening on the results of a new study which shows that 11 percent of American women and 18 percent of American men consume far too much alcohol than the recommended federal guidelines. Additionally, 3 percent of women and 8 percent of men are considered to be "heavy drinkers". The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The study's lead author, Patricia Guenther, nutritionist at the United States Department of Agriculture, said, "In fact, most adults don't drink at all on any given day. But the fact remains that it is a significant public health problem that many people do drink to excess."
The study data came from a national survey on health and nutrition and included approximately 5,400 adults over the age of 21. Study participants were asked how much alcohol they had consumed the previous day. Results of the survey showed that 79 percent of women and 64 percent of men said they had consumed no alcohol, and an additional 10 percent of women and 18 percent of men had consumed alcohol within the recommended amounts. The advised limits are two drinks a day for men and one for women. Nine percent of men said that they had consumed three to four drinks the previous day, and 8 percent of women said they had consumed two to three drinks the day before. The "heavy drinker" category found 8 percent of men who had consumed five or more drinks, and 3 percent of women who had consumed 4 or more drinks.
Jennifer Mertens, research medical scientist at Oakland, California's Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said, "Overall the study confirms that rates of unhealthy alcohol use in the U.S. are significant." In an email to Reuters Health, Mertens wrote that regular drinking more than recommended levels is "linked to increased alcohol-related problems." She added, "Binge drinking (more than four drinks on any one day for men and more than three on any one day for women and older adults) even one time can increase the risk of injury from falls, motor vehicle accidents and other accidents."
Men who were found to be the heaviest drinkers were in the 30 to 31 year old age group; a full 22 percent. Women who were found to be the heaviest drinkers were in the 51 to 70 year old age group, a full 12 percent. Guenther told Reuters Health, " People need to be aware that there are people of all ages who drink to excess." She added that the new study is also important because it may help people recognize whether they themselves are drinking more than recommended.