The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4008.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 8:30 AM

Abstract #64935

Most of the alcohol consumed in the US drunk is not drunk safely: The health policy implications

Thomas K. Greenfield, PhD1, Yu Ye, MA1, William C. Kerr, PhD1, Jason Bond, PhD1, Madhabika Nayak, PhD1, and Jürgen Rehm, PhD2. (1) Public Health Institute, Alcohol Research Group, 2000 Hearst Avenue, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94709, 510-642-5208,, (2) Social, Prevention and Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 55 Russell St, Toronto, ON M5S 2S1, Canada

Various governmental and international organizations have defined safe drinking limits including either volume or quantity per occasion thresholds (or both). From a policy perspective, the proportion of the nation's alcohol consumption owing to those exceeding the safe drinking guidelines, or consumed by dependent drinkers, is important, particularly for monitoring industry marketing practices. This paper estimates these proportions according to several commonly used standards, using the 2000 National Alcohol Survey (N=7,612) including black and Hispanic oversamples, weighted to Census. Measures included the Graduated Frequency alcohol scale and a 17-symptom DSM-IV measure (3+ criterion). Using the FDA drinking guideline (£ 2 drinks on any day for men; 1 for women) revealed that only 5% of total US alcohol consumption comes from individuals who never exceed the guideline. Using a less stringent guideline, the WHO hazardous and harmful volume threshold (Men > 40 g ethanol/day, women > 20 g/day) and the 5+ quantity threshold, showed 16.5% of the alcohol is consumed by drinkers always within both limits (83.5% of total drunk by those sometimes exceeding either or both limits). Alcohol dependant drinkers consumed 21.9%, and occasions involving 5+ accounted for 57.9%, of all the alcohol consumed in the US. One conclusion is that most of the alcohol consumed in the US is drunk by people with risky patterns of drinking and more than a fifth by those with current alcohol use disorders. Implications for selection and dissemination of safe drinking guidelines and advocacy related to industry practices will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Alcohol Use, Risk Behavior

Related Web page:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Alcohol Policy and the Environment: Research and Prevention Strategies

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA