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America's Least Drunk City

The CDC devotes a fair amount of research to what it calls “Excessive Alcohol Use.” It does so because of the terrible toll it takes on Americans both in terms of their health and financially.

Excessive alcohol use is divided into three categories, according to the CDC:

Binge drinking, defined as consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion for a woman or 5 or more drinks on an occasion for a man.

Heavy drinking, defined as 8 or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.

Any alcohol use by pregnant women or anyone younger than 21.

First, the physical toll. Excessive drinking is the leading cause of preventable death in America. One in ten deaths of working-age adults is triggered by excessive use of alcohol. It can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, and some forms of cancer. It can cause emotional problems, some of which trigger violence.

The economic costs are over $249 billion a year.

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 24/7 Tempo identified the U.S. metropolitan area with the lowest excessive drinking rate.

To create a list to be examined, metro areas were rated on the share of adults who either binge drink or drink heavily. CHR defines binge drinking as consumption of more than four drinks in a single occasion for women and more than five drinks for men, while heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink a day on average for women and more than two drinks a day for men.

The least drunk city in America was Provo-Orem, UT. Here are the details:

> Adults binge or heavy drinking: 6.6%
> Driving deaths involving alcohol: 18.0% — 35th lowest of 384 metros
> Median household income: $79,152 — 32nd highest of 384 metros
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.3% — 21st lowest of 384 metros

Methodology: To determine America’s least drunk metro, 24/7 Tempo reviewed rates of excessive drinking from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

The rate of excessive drinking is defined as the share of adults who report either binge drinking or heavy drinking in the past 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as a woman consuming more than four drinks or a man consuming more than five drinks in a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as a woman consuming more than one drink per day on average or a man consuming more than two drinks per day on average.

We aggregated county-level statistics to metropolitan statistical areas. While the CHR report is from 2021, excessive drinking rate figures published in the report are from 2018.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.

Metros were ranked based on the excessive drinking rate. Additional information on the share of driving deaths with alcohol involvement and the share of adults who report fair or poor health are also from the 2021 CHR. Median household income data are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

Click here to read America’s Least Drink Metros

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