Consumption of (Legal) Alcohol Plunges 11/15/97

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A study released this week by an alcohol research team at the University of California at Berkeley shows that heavy drinking has declined precipitously over the past 12 years. The study broke the findings down along racial lines, with the number of white, male heavy drinkers showing the most dramatic decline. The study also indicated that total abstinence is the rule, rather than the exception, among African-American and Latino women, and that the numbers of abstinent males in these groups has risen significantly as well.

In 1984, 20% of white males consumed at least five drinks in a sitting at least once per week. In 1995, that number had declined to 12%. Within this group, the percentage of heavy drinkers among those 50-59 years of age dropped from 19% to 3%, and in the 18-29 age group, heavy drinkers constituted 16% of the sample, down from 32%.

Among African-Americans, 55% of women were totally abstinent, while male abstinence rose from 36% from 29%. Among Latinos, 57% of women do not drink, and 35% of men, up from 22% in 1984, are abstinent. The longitudinal study used a sample of 6,000, and its results were announced on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association. The study's authors speculate that greater awareness of the harms associated with heavy drinking is a major reason for the change in behavior.

[Source: Oakland Tribune, 11/12]

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