State health officials have a New Year’s resolution they’d like New Yorkers to consider: Drink less alcohol.
A new brief from the New York health department finds one in six New Yorkers, or 16.7%, reported excessive alcohol consumption. The numbers come from the latest “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” an annual statewide telephone survey of adults developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted across the country.
Nearly 15% of adult New Yorkers reported binge drinking and 5.5% heavy drinking, the survey finds. According to the CDC, binge drinking is consuming 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in a single occasion, while heavy drinking is consuming 8 or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men.
On Friday, State Health Commissioner James McDonald said New Yorkers could benefit in many ways from cutting back on alcohol.
“Drinking less can help improve sleep, help you achieve a healthy weight, and improve your mental and physical health now and later in life,” McDonald said in a statement. “I hope in the New Year, more people choose to reduce their alcohol consumption and that those who struggle with their alcohol use take advantage of the many resources available to help.”
Excessive drinking was more common in men, especially those younger than 35, and adults who had an annual household income of at least $75,000, according to the study.
White, non-Hispanic adults also reported higher rates of excessive alcohol consumption than other racial and ethnic groups, with 17.3% reporting binge drinking and 9% reporting heavy drinking.
The same was true of people who reported frequent mental distress — problems with stress, depression or emotions on at least 14 of the previous 30 days — with 20.1% reporting binge drinking and 10.5% reporting heavy drinking. Smokers also reported significantly higher rates of excessive drinking than non-smokers, per the study.
The health department says excessive drinking is a leading cause of preventable and premature death in the U.S. and is responsible for nearly 6,700 annual deaths in New York out of 140,000 nationwide. It’s also correlated with a variety of negative health outcomes in the short and long terms, including accidental injuries, hypertension, and cardiovascular and liver disease.
Although excessive drinking remains common in New York, the prevalence of heavy drinking decreased 1 percentage point from 2020 to 2021, from 6.5% to 5.5%, the report finds.
At the same time, a growing number of businesses in New York City and elsewhere are offering more alcohol-free beverages for those looking to drink less, as non-alcoholic wines, beers and spirits have flooded the market in recent years. Alcohol delivery app Drizly also reported a 62% increase in non-alcoholic beverage sales from 2022 to 2023.
For people struggling with excessive alcohol consumption, the New York health department recommends speaking with one’s primary care provider or accessing resources through the state Office of Addition Services and Supports.
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