Exploring Binge Drinking Patterns in the US: Insights from GIS Mapping

It is clear that Americans love drinking alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, over half of US adults report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days (1). Alcohol has been implicated as a risk factor for certain types of cancer, causing up to 4% of cancers worldwide (2). Alcohol is also known as a risk factor for several other negative health outcomes, such as liver and heart disease, and poor pregnancy outcomes.

The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming five or more [standard] drinks on an occasion for men, or four or more on an occasion for women. Binge drinking is most common among adult men aged 18-34. It is more common among non-Hispanic Whites living in the Midwest. One in six US adults engage in binge drinking, and 25% do so weekly (3). Risks of binge drinking include the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (4), higher risk of injuries (5), and poor mental health (6),

Understanding the spatial distribution of binge drinking across the United States adds a crucial layer of insight into this prevalent issue. By exploring the geographical patterns of binge drinking prevalence, we can pinpoint areas of heightened risk and better tailor intervention strategies to address these specific communities’ needs. Empirical Bayesian Kriging (EBK), a statistical technique utilized in this analysis, allows us to smooth out the data and generate more accurate estimates of binge drinking prevalence across different regions. It accounts for spatial autocorrelation and uncertainty, enhancing the precision of estimates. This approach not only helps visualize where binge drinking is most prevalent but also provides a better understanding of the underlying trends driving this behavior.

For this analysis, the age-adjusted binge drinking prevalence was obtained from the CDC (7).

I’ve created a web map highlighting the output of the EBK analysis, allowing for interactive exploration of binge drinking prevalence across different regions of the United States. Please note that Florida was excluded from the analysis due to missing data.


1: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-stats.htm

2. Rumgay, et. al, Alcohol and Cancer: Epidemiology and Biological Mechanisms, 2021.

3. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

4. Jones, et. al. Effects of Binge Drinking on the Developing Brain, 2018

5. Kuntsche, et. al, Binge drinking: Health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions, (2017)

6. Kelly, et. al, Adolescent binge drinking in the West of Ireland: associated risk and protective factors, (2023)

7. https://data.cdc.gov/500-Cities-Places/PLACES-Place-Data-GIS-Friendly-Format-2023-release/vgc8-iyc4/about_data

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