A new study is turning up surprising numbers on who's buying and drinking alcohol in this country. The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association says more than half of all the alcohol purchased in the U.S. is consumed by either underage drinkers or adults who drink in excess.
That those two groups alone are spending $57 billion a year on alcohol, dollar signs that some say should be a wake up call to parents and community health officials.
"Underage drinkers alone consume almost 20% of the alcohol in this country, and adult excessive drinkers account for another 30%. The message to parents, I think, is a very important part of our findings here, and that is that the alcohol industry has an economic interest in our children's drinking," says Susan Foster, M.S.W., Columbia University.
The bottom line, according to Foster, is that this research shows half of the alcohol industry's sales come from either the abuse or misuse of its product.
Researchers define excessive drinking as more than two drinks a day for men, and more than one for women. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Center for Substance Abuse and addiction.