Wednesday's HOT MIC
This is a fascinating study on the "drunkest" and the "driest" cities in America.
Who's the drunkest? According to the website 24/7 Wall Street -- cheeseheads. Ten of the top 20 cities that have the highest number of problem drinkers are in Wisconsin. In fact, all but one city in the top 20 is located in the midwest.
Green Bay gets the booby prize as the drunkest city in America.
The driest city is Provo, Utah.
Across broad populations, excessive alcohol consumption rates appear associated with some economic factors. Alcohol is expensive, and an individual’s ability to drink to excess can be limited by their income. Partially as a result, the cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates tend to have lower incomes, and vice-versa.
Of the 20 metro areas with the lowest excessive drinking rates, 18 have a lower median household income than the national annual median of $57,617. Meanwhile, median household incomes in 11 of the metro areas with the highest excessive drinking rates exceed the national median.
Social factors also play a role. In Wisconsin, alcohol consumption is, for many, an integral part of the state’s culture. Half of the heaviest drinking cities are in Wisconsin. On the other end of the spectrum, large segments of the population in Utah are teetotalers. Over 60% of the state’s population identify as Mormon, a religion that teaches its followers to avoid alcohol consumption. Four of Utah's five metro areas rank among the cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates.
While the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption are well established, a large share of excessive drinkers often does not translate to poor health outcomes across a population. Alcohol consumption is just one of a multitude of factors that can affect personal well-being. In fact, because cities with higher excessive drinking rates also tend to have higher incomes, residents can afford healthier diets and lifestyles than lower-income residents in many cities with low excessive drinking rates.
Here's the profile of Green Bay:
- Pct. adults drinking to excess: 26.5%
- Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 50.5%
- Est. number of restaurants and bars: 652 (204.9 per 100,000)
- Median household income: $58,011
The heaviest drinking metro area in the heaviest drinking state, Green Bay, Wis., has the highest excessive drinking rate of any U.S. metro area. Some 26.5% of adults in Green Bay drink excessively, making it the only metro area in Wisconsin with a higher excessive drinking rate than the statewide average of 26.2%. For comparison, 18.0% of American adults drink excessively.
A high excessive drinking rate does not necessarily increase the likelihood of alcohol-related car accidents. However, the Green Bay metro area is one of only five nationwide where alcohol was a factor in over half of all driving deaths.
For contrast, here's Provo's profile:
- Pct. adults drinking to excess: 8.5%
- Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 14.3%
- Est. number of restaurants and bars: 712 (118.2 per 100,000)
- Median household income: $69,288
Provo-Orem, Utah, is by far the driest metro area in the United States. Just 8.5% of area adults report drinking excessively, well below anywhere else in the country and nearly half the nationwide excessive drinking rate of 18.0%. Provo is the home of Brigham Young University. Towns with large colleges will often have high drinking rates because college students tend to drink excessively. However, BYU’s honor code prohibits students from drinking alcohol because of its close association with the Mormon church.
That relationship with Mormonism extends to the rest of the community as well. As of 2017, Utah County, which contains the Provo area, was 84.7% Mormon. The religious group encourages followers to abstain from drinking.
Most of the 20 driest cities in America are in the South.
It's no accident that almost all of the drunkest cities in America are college towns where binge drinking is a way of life and bars proliferate. And as far as almost all the drunkest cities being in the Midwest, all I can say is that as a proud Midwesterner, I challenge the CDC definition of "heavy drinker."
Excessive drinking, according to the CDC, includes binge drinking — which is defined as four or more drinks on a single occasion for women and five or more for men — and heavy drinking, or eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.
Two beers a night is "heavy"? Those CDC guys don't get out too much, do they?