Binge drinking: it’s time to take responsibility

August 27, 2009

Binge drinking: it’s time to take responsibility

Talk about some Boomers who never matured: more than one out of five men (22%) and nearly one out of ten women (9%) between ages 50 and 64 binge drink. That means they consumed five alcoholic drinks or more at a time within a month of being surveyed by Duke University researchers working with the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Moreover, 19% of the men and 13% of the women reported having two or more drinks a day - a level that puts their health at risk when viewed against American Geriatric Society guidelines, noted a USA Today report.

Some 14% of men and three percent of women over the age of 65 also binge drink, said Duke researchers, who surveyed 11,000 men and women in 2005 and 2006, according to the article in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Combine this with the legendary drinking - and more than occasional deaths - of college students, and one rightfully sees that significant portions of three age groups in the United States are experiencing problems with self-control. Never mind other personal issues that led them to this point, at least for purposes of this essay.

It’s time, we believe at, that food stores step into the fray. Many benefit from vast sales of beer, wine and spirits, and owe it to their constituencies to help keep them and their loved ones safe. Their efforts should go beyond a poster or two on responsible drinking. Why not run seminars in the pharmacy that talk about contraindications with medicines, and other risks of binge drinking? Think about the connection to diabetes, strokes, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis and brain damage.

How about letting dietitians describe how alcohol puts the body on tilt? Support local programs against drunk driving. 

We’re talking cause marketing for the best cause – the health and perpetuation of your customers. Dan Blazer, the Duke professor of psychiatry and behavioral science who led the writing of the study, noted that older people “don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly, they may be on medications, or they may have some health problems that alcohol may contribute to.”  

OK. But it doesn’t help students when Budweiser issues beer in cans that sport school colors and promotional materials referring to “12-ounce cans that were made for gameday.”  CPG manufacturers and retailers can’t keep tapping their customers without consequence. Do a 180 degree turn here to be admired by the vast majority of consumers who don’t want to be negatively affected by other people’s drinking problems, and also by the people who indulge too heavily and need to moderate for their own well-being.