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May 03, 2015

Binge, heavy drinking behaviors increase in local counties

A new report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that binge and heavy drinking has become more prevalent in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.

The report, originally published in the American Journal of Public Health on April 23, looked at data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The authors tracked changes in behaviors regarding binge drinking and any drinking from 2002 to 2012. It also looked at changes in heavy drinking from 2005 to 2012. 

Binge drinking, as defined by the CDC as having four or more drinks in one sitting for women or 5 or more drinks in one sitting for men on at least one occasion in the past month. Heavy drinking is categorized as having, on average, more than one drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men over the course of the past month.

For the most part, the percentage of the population that participates in both those behaviors in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties has increased over the respective timespans.

  Heavy (Men)Heavy (Women)  Binge (Men)Binge (Women) 
Philadelphia 10.8%(+2.6)  6.9%(+1.5)26.3%( +1.3)14.2%(+0.9) 
Bucks10.1%(+1.7)6.2%(+1.1)  28.1%(+1.3)13.8%(+1.0) 
 Montgomery 8.6%(+1.4)6.8%(+1.4) 27.1%(+0.6) 13.2%(+1.1) 
 Chester 8.6%(+1.3)6.7%(+0.8) 27.0%(+0.3) 12.7%(-0.3) 
Delaware 9.9%(+1.1) 5.9%(+0.6)  28.7%(0.0) 14.1%(0.0)
Pennsylvania 10.3%(+1.5)5.8%(+1.2)27.1%(-0.8) 13.3%(+0.6)
United States  9.9(+0.9) 6.7%(+1.5) 24.5%(+0.4)12.4%(+1.6)  
While the data supports the overarching findings of the report that binge and heavy drinking have increased in most U.S. counties, the authors note that the significance of that change varied greatly across the country. They also say that the information should be used to help find ways to reduce excessive alcohol use.