Don't Overdo the Gameday Drinking

Alcohol consumption on Super Bowl Sunday was higher among heavy drinkers, especially men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A once-in-a-lifetime play or winning touchdown during the Super Bowl is enough to make any fan celebrate. Many fans may channel that excitement into celebratory drinking, which can quickly get out of hand.

A new study found that alcohol intake spiked on Super Bowl Sunday among heavy drinkers — especially men.

“Our research shows that male at-risk drinkers report greater alcohol consumption on Super Bowl Sunday as compared to a typical Saturday, which is, on average, the heaviest drinking day of the week,” said lead study author Ronda L. Dearing, PhD, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions in New York, in a press release.

This study looked at nearly 200 adult men and women for three years. These participants all reported "hazardous and harmful alcohol use," Dr. Dearing and team noted.

The American Heart Association's alcohol guidelines say that men should limit their alcohol intake to two drinks a day, and women should only have one. That's around 8 ounces of wine for men and 4 ounces for women. In this study, however, the participants were considered heavy drinkers who were at-risk for alcohol-related health problems like heart disease, liver disease and alcohol-related accidents. That meant the men were drinking more than four drinks a day and the women were drinking more than three.

That kind of drinking can be dangerous, Dr. Dearing said.

“The potential for severe consequences associated with heavy drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, such as high rates of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities, indicates that this is an important public health concern that merits additional attention,” Dr. Dearing said.

The study participants reported their drinking habits every Super Bowl weekend for three years. Dr. Dearing and colleagues found that men drank more on Super Bowl Sunday on average than they did the three previous Saturdays. For many patients in this study, Super Bowl Sunday meant about two drinks more than on an average Saturday. In women who were heavy drinkers, only one of the years studied showed a significant jump in alcohol intake on Super Bowl Sunday.

Dr. Dearing said the increase in drinking during the Super Bowl could be a result of celebratory drinking — cheering, high-fiving and having a drink when your team makes a great play, in other words.

“Celebratory drinking is well-documented among young adults, but little is known about the phenomenon beyond young adulthood," Dr. Dearing said. "It is important that further study is undertaken to learn more about the risk factors and negative consequences of celebratory drinking among adults."

Dr. Dearing and colleagues did not find that the Super Bowl caused people to drink more. They simply found that some people drank more alcohol on Super Bowl Sunday, which does not prove a direct relationship between these two factors.

This study was published in the August 2014 issue of the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 30, 2015
Last Updated:
February 2, 2015