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Binge drinkers pick beer over spirits

From correspondents in New York

August 08, 2007

MOST binge drinkers will reach for beer rather than wine or spirits when they set out to get drunk, US researchers said today.

The study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention examined the drinking habits of 14,000 adult binge drinkers across 18 US states.

What they found is that 67 per cent of these drinkers drank only or mainly beer in their most recent binge, with easy access to beer seen as a major reason.

The researchers defined a binge drinker as someone drinking more than five drinks at one sitting.

"Beer is sold in far more locations, especially outlets like convenience stores and gas stations, where impulse purchases are common," said Dr Timothy Naimi, an epidemiologist with the CDC, whose study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study found about two-thirds of all binge drinkers, no matter what age, race or education level, would choose beer over spirits, wine or other alcohol.

The study also uncovered big differences in drinking patterns between men and women, with 73 per cent of men favouring beer as the binge drink of choice, compared with 50 per cent of women.

Dr Naimi said most binge drinkers were not alcoholics, but would drink to match their peers or for other reasons.

Still, their heavy drinking often puts them and those around them at risk, especially when these drinkers got behind the wheel of a car.

The CDC is campaigning for tighter rules on the taxation of beer and on its availability, especially late at night and early in the morning.

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