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 23 February 2018

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News

Alcohol consumption in underage and adult excessive drinkers

Researchers in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association find that underage drinkers and adult excessive drinkers are responsible for 50% of alcohol consumption.

News image

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Estimates of the amount and proportion of alcohol consumed by underage and adult drinkers have been reported. However, more accurate estimates and economic impacts have not been explored.

In this study, researchers from the United States estimated underage and adult excessive drinking. They also described consumer expenditures linked to underage and adult excessive drinking.

The research team obtained their information from several national data sets, including national data on consumption and consumer expenditures for alcohol.

Consumer expenditure on alcohol in the United States in 1999 = $116.2 billion.
Journal of the American Medical Association

The study included a total of 217,192 individuals aged 12 years or older, across 3 data sources.

The team measured the proportion of total alcohol consumed, and proportion of consumer expenditures on alcohol, among underage (12 to 20 years) and adult excessive (≥21 years) drinkers.

The researchers estimated that the proportion of 12 to 20 year olds who drink was 50%. The estimated proportion of adults aged 21 or older who drink was 53%.

They estimated the total number of drinks consumed per month as 4.21 billion. Underage drinkers consumed 20% of this total.

The team determined that the amount of adult drinking that was excessive (>2 drinks per day) was 30%.

Furthermore, consumer expenditure on alcohol in the United States in 1999 was $116.2 billion. Of that total, $22.5 billion was attributed to underage drinking and $34.4 billion was attributed to adult excessive drinking.

Dr Susan Foster’s team concluded, “These data suggest that underage drinkers and adult excessive drinkers are responsible for 50% of alcohol consumption and 49% of consumer expenditure”.

In a related editorial in the same publication, Drs Glen Hanson and Ting-Kai Li discuss the public health implications of excessive alcohol consumption.

They state that, “Abuse of alcohol and other substances continues to be one of the most serious public health problems in the United States”.

Furthermore, “Alcohol consumption among underage and heavy drinkers is a major problem with serious health consequences”.

They conclude by highlighting the, “Importance of being vigilant in efforts to reduce alcohol and drug abuse”.

JAMA 2003; 289: 989-95
27 February 2003

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