Majority in U.S. Drink Alcohol, Averaging Four Drinks a Week

During a survey conducted July 9-12, 2012 by Lydia Saad of Gallup, various age groups were asked about how often they consumed alcoholic beverages, what type of drink (beer, wine, or liquor) was consumed, and if gender was related to the amount of alcohol consumed during a seven-day period.

Using the method of landlines as the means of contact, men and women ages eighteen and older were asked a series of questions regarding his or her average consumption. A random sample of 1,014 adults based in the 50 states was contacted through a minimum of 400 random cellular calls and 600 random land-line calls. The results were calculated based on gender, race, age, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (Saad 2012).

Participants were first asked if he or she “Have occasion to drink alcohol,” where in July 2012, 66% responded yes as compared to 64% from the previous year which shows an increase in consumption (Saad 2012).

During the second question “Number of alcoholic beverages consumed in past seven days” Saad’s (2012) research indicated the response of 8 or more remained a steady 12% from the previous year’s response. Consumption of 1 to 7 drinks decreased by 2 %, from 54% to 52%, while the amount of adults that consumed zero alcoholic beverages increased by a mere 1% up to 34% from the previous response. During both years the average amount of drinks was around 4 drinks (Saad 2012).

Once it was determined whether or not the participant consumed alcoholic beverages, he or she was asked “Alcoholic beverage drunk most often” (Saad 2012) during the week. The most common response was beer, with an average consumption of 39%, an increase of 3% from 2011 reporting. Second highest alcoholic beverage consumed among U.S. drinkers was wine with a constant 35% during both years. Liquor was consumed the least amongst drinkers with a drop of 1% from the previous year’s response of 23% (Saad 2012).

With respondents also being asked his or her gender, race, and age it was determined that men showed an increase in the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed during a seven-day period over women. Men, on average, consume 6.2 drinks within a seven-day period than women who only consumed about 2.2. The survey also showed that most men admit to consuming more alcoholic beverages than they should (Saad 2012).

Of these adult respondents, the survey concluded that white males are more likely to consume more than other races. With whites averaging 4.5 drinks during a seven-day period versus 3.3 drinks being consumed by non-whites (Saad 2012).

The average age of consumer who drinks heavily was 18 to 49 regardless of age/gender. A majority of male consumers, 36%, being younger men, and only 18% being in the older age group reported higher alcohol consumption. The same trend was seen amongst women with 20% of younger females consuming more than their 8% older respondents (Saad 2012).

Differences in alcoholic preferences was also reported with 55% of males preferring the consumption of beer as an alcoholic beverage, compared to 21% liquor, and wine a close third at 20% consumption. On the opposing side, female consumers have a stronger preference for wine, reporting in with 52% over the consumption of either liquor or beer. Beer remained the drink of choice with consumers 18 to 54, while wine was the drink of choice with the older respondents (Saad 2012).

The survey also showed a greater preference for beer among Midwest drinkers and wine as the drink of Eastern consumers.

This survey showed that drinking is common among U.S. adults, even with two-thirds of Americans reporting that he or she never consumed, and consumption of at least one alcoholic beverage within the past week. Saad (2012) found that of those that do drink, beer was still the preferred drink, and 14% reported having problems with consuming too much. This survey shows that young males are at a higher risk to be among the group that over consume alcohol on a weekly basis.

While reviewing this survey for its accuracy, methodology, and reporting; I found this survey to be conducted poorly and inaccurately. The method of surveying was conducted through random telephone contacts with no set means to determine who was contacted other than including cellular and land-line numbers.

With this survey reporting a 95% margin of error ±4 percent (Saad 2012), then stating the sample of drinkers was ±5 percent (Saad 2012), the percent of error is too large to be considered highly accurate. While the interview was conducted with land-line and cellular respondents, and Spanish for those of Hispanic speaking households, the cellular calls were random and the land-line households were chosen at random based on the reported birthday of the household members. This creates a great amount of false age reporting and therefore produces inaccurate results.

The age groups selected included those of non-legal drinking age and therefore included minors who possibly did not answer correctly. Also, the wording of the questions could be misleading and influence the answer given in such a way that some adults might have different opinions as to the meaning of what “occasional” drinking is.

This survey, while providing insight into the drinking habits of American adults, is not accurate enough to report the findings. Conducting this survey again with different methods and age groups might produce better and more accurate results.

References
Saad, L. (2012, August 17). Majority in U.S. drink alcohol, averaging four drink a week. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/156770/Majority-Drink-Alcohol-Averaging-Four-Drinks-Week.aspx

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