Beer is the overwhelming choice of binge drinkers, the ones who tend to cause the most trouble overall. Public policy could have an impact:
Beer was also the first choice of drinkers who are most likely to cause harm because of alcohol-fueled behavior.
“These are some of the most dangerous groups — underage drinkers, people who drank eight or more drinks on one occasion and people who drove during or just after their drinking episode,” Naimi said.
Naimi and his colleagues are calling for more equal — and stringent — laws and policies to limit excessive drinking across all types of alcoholic beverages.
“Sadly, there’s lots of binge drinking going on with all kinds of drinks, and there are lots of effective polices that haven’t been widely adopted,” Naimi said. “And there are other laws, like those related to selling alcohol to minors or selling to those who are already drunk, that aren’t reliably enforced.”
Laws that tax alcohol and limit its accessibility work well to curb excessive drinking, but in the United States beer sales enjoy favorable treatment over liquor and wine, according to the CDC researchers.
“Beer is sold in far more locations, especially outlets like convenience stores and gas stations — where impulse purchases are common. Beer taxes at the state and federal level are low and beer is king in terms of aggressive marketing to young adults, who are especially likely to drink and get drunk,” Naimi said.
Now the proviso:
“All of these factors may, and I underscore ‘may,’ contribute to our study findings,” he said. “Choosing a beverage is extremely complex and some of the decision might be governed by these policy factors; some of it might be governed by social factors, family habits or country of origin. It’s a complicated formula and it’s a very important limitation of the study.”
"But from a public health standpoint, it doesn’t make sense that beer is marketed, taxed and distributed in a more permissive way than other beverages," Naimi said.