Why do we measure binge drinking?
Excessive alcohol use is a common public health issue in the U.S. In particular, binge drinking—when an individual consumes a high number of drinks on a single occasion—is linked to significant economic costs and early death.(1,2) Car crashes, falls, burns, alcohol poisoning, and violence are all more likely among people who binge drink. Cancer, memory and learning problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and chronic diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, and liver disease, are also more widespread among people who binge drink, as are fetal alcohol syndrome, poor pregnancy outcomes, and sudden infant death syndrome.(3,4)
Binge drinking is especially high among White residents, males, adults 18-34 years, and those with higher household incomes. Rates of intense binge drinking are greatest in American Indian/ Native Alaskan populations.(5)
How do we measure binge drinking?
This metric includes women 18 or older, who report consuming more than four alcoholic drinks on one occasion, or men 18 or older, who report consuming more than five alcoholic drinks on one occasion.
Strengths of Metric
Limitations of Metric
Binge drinking can have negative health effects for both the drinker and people around them, especially through car accidents.(4)
Measuring binge drinking among adults can reveal larger societal norms and expectations about drinking culture.(4)
Aspects of the metric are open to interpretation, as some people surveyed may not know the definition of a standard drink or the length of an occasion of drinking.(4)
The data do not capture binge drinking among people younger than 18 years.
The metric is self-reported and depends on the accurate reporting of the person surveyed.
Binge drinking is calculated by the following formula:
Binge drinking = [Respondents who drink>4 drinks (women) or>5 drinks (men) on an occasion]/Total respondents x 100%
This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. For more information, please refer to the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document.
Estimates for this metric are from one year modeled PLACES Project Data (formerly 500 Cities Project)from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stahre M, Roeber J, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Zhang X. Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States. 2014.
Bouchery EE, Harwood HJ, Sacks JJ, Simon CJ, Brewer RD. Economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S., 2006. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(5):516-524.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact Sheets - Binge Drinking. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm. Updated June 7, 2017; Accessed February 15, 2018.
Kuntsche E, Kuntsche S, Thrul J, Gmel G. Binge drinking: Health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions. Psychology & Health. 2017;32(8):976-1017.
Kanny D, Liu Y, Brewer RD, Lu H. Binge drinking—United States, 2011. Morbidity and mortality weekly report surveillance summaries (Washington, DC : 2002). 2013;62(Suppl 3):77-80.
Last updated: January 24, 2023