US Alcohol Drinkers Average 4 Beverages Per Week

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A majority of adults in the United States consume alcohol, and these drinkers, on average, have four beverages per week, with beer the preferred choice, according to an annual Gallup survey.

Two-thirds of Americans reported that they consume alcohol at least occasionally, according to the poll conducted July 9-12. When asked how many drinks they had in the past week, 34 percent of these drinkers said none, 52 percent said one to 7, and 12 percent said eight or more.

Gallup found that 22 percent of drinkers said they sometimes drink too much, up from 17 percent last year. This year's figure, however, is similar to the percentages in most other years over the past decade, according to a statement from the research firm.

When asked which kind of alcohol they drink most often, 39 percent of those surveyed said beer, 35 percent said wine and 22 percent said liquor. But these numbers hide a gender divide in preference. The slight majority of male drinkers, 55 percent, said they most often drink beer, followed by liquor at 21 percent, and wine at 20 percent. Among female drinkers, meanwhile, 52 percent said they most often drink wine, with the rest divided over liquor and beer, according to Gallup.

In addition, men tend to drink more, the survey found, with male drinkers reporting they consumed 6.2 drinks, on average, in the past week, compared with 2.2 for women. Younger men, ages 18 to 49, are the heaviest drinkers of any age group or gender, with 36 percent saying they sometimes drink too much, compared with 18 percent of older men (ages 50 and older), 20 percent of younger women (ages 18 to 49), and 8 percent of women 50 and older.

Gallup found that whites are more likely to drink than nonwhites, and they report drinking more alcohol than nonwhites (4.5 drinks on average in the past week, compared with 3.3 drinks for nonwhites).

The survey results were based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,014 adults, ages 18 and older, living in the United Sates. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, according to Gallup.

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.