Have A Drink, Not Four

Alcohol consumption in US adults exceeds dietary guidelines for America

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Crossing the line between one or two drinks to three or four isn’t difficult, but it may not be healthy. Researchers have found that many people have been drinking too much.

A recent study looked at the rates of alcohol consumption by US adults compared to Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The researchers found that 18 percent of American men and 11 percent of American women drank more alcohol per day than the guidelines recommend.

The authors called on dieticians and healthcare professionals to promote patient education about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption.

"If you choose to drink, do so in moderation."

Patricia M. Guenther, PhD, RD, from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the US Department of Agriculture in Alexandria, VA, was the lead author of this study on the levels of alcohol consumption in the United States.

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) state that if alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation, which is defined as up to two drinks in a single day for men and one drink for women,” the authors said.

For the study, researchers reviewed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2009 to 2010. For the survey, 2,740 men and 2,941 women age 21 and older were asked about how many alcoholic beverages they had drank in the past 24 hours.

On average, men reported 1.2 alcoholic drinks per day and women reported 0.4 alcoholic drinks per day. On the day of the study, 36 percent of men and 21 percent of women said they had consumed alcohol.

One serving of alcohol is defined as 12 oz. of beer containing 5 percent alcohol, 5 oz. of wine containing 12 percent alcohol or 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits containing 40 percent alcohol. Alcohol containers have alcohol percentages listed on their labels.

Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 82 percent of men and 89 percent of women did not go over the daily limit for alcohol consumption. On the flip side, 7 percent of men and 3 percent of women had more than three drinks that day.

Heavy drinking was considered more than four servings of alcohol for men and more than three for women in a day.

The researchers estimated that 18 percent of men and 11 percent of women in the US drank three or more alcoholic beverages per day.

Broken down by age, men between 31 and 50 years of age and women between 51 and 70 years of age showed the highest levels of drinking.

The authors recommended that registered dieticians and healthcare professionals be aware of heavy drinking among clients and patients. Healthcare professionals have access to educational resources that they can give to their patients to help them understand the health risks involved in heavy drinking.

This study was published in February in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

No outside funding was used. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 25, 2013
Last Updated:
February 27, 2013