One out of six adults in the United States is a binge drinker, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated on Tuesday.
Results from a 2010 telephone survey show that more than 38 million US adults are binge drinkers, defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a short period of time for men and four of more for women.
The average frequency of binge drinking was four times a month, the study found.
Binge drinking increases car crashes, violence, and suicides and causes half of the estimated 80,000 average annual deaths in the US attributed to excess drinking, the agency said.
Binge drinking was most common among those in the 18 to 34 age group but the frequency was higher among those over age 65. It was most common in the Midwest, New England, Washington, D.C., Alaska and Hawaii, the survey found said. Men were twice as likely as women to binge drink, according to the study.
Possible solutions to binge drinking include raising the price of alcohol and maintaining limits on the day and hours when it is sold, one expert said.
"Alcohol is way too cheap, way too available," Dafna Kanny, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study, told Reuters. "If it is acceptable that this many adults are binge drinking, we have a problem in this society."
The telephone survey of 458,000 people was conducted on both land lines and cellular phones.