How common is binge drinking? 1 in 6 Americans does it weekly, CDC finds

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Americans consume a staggering 17.5 billion binge drinks each year, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Shutterstock)

Despite warnings against it, binge drinking is relatively commonplace in the United States, according to a newly published study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that one in six Americans admitted to binge drinking at least once a week in 2015. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women or five or more drinks per occasion for men.

Study participants consumed an average of seven drinks per binge, researchers said, accounting for a staggering 17 billion binge drinks nationwide each year.

While binge drinking might be commonly associated with college parties and younger revelers, the study found that half of binge drinks were consumed by those aged 35 or older. The results were, however, heavily skewed toward men, who consumed 80 percent of binge drinks measured. The practice is also more common among those who are less educated and have lower incomes.

The CDC warns that binge drinking can lead to dangerous driving, risky sexual behavior and violent behavior, adding that binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the nation's nearly 90,000 annual alcohol-attributable deaths.

"This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others," study co-author Robert Brewer said in a news release. "The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge."
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