When it comes to binge drinking, beer is the choice of beverage that most adults prefer.
This finding is based on a study conducted on the beverage preferences of more than 14,000 binge drinkers across 18 states in the US by researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
74 percent of the binge drinkers surveyed said they drank beer exclusively or predominantly in their most recent binge-drinking episode.
Beer accounted for 67 percent of binge drinks consumed; distilled spirits or liquor was second with 22 percent of drinks; and wine and other flavoured premixed drinks accounted for 11 percent of binge drinks.
Beer was also the first choice of drinkers who are most likely to cause harm because of alcohol-fuelled behaviour.
Lead study author Timothy Naimi, M.D., said that the study was important as binge drinkers — and those around them — are especially vulnerable to alcohol-related problems.
"This study isn't looking at alcohol consumed by people drinking responsibly, or moderately; this is alcohol consumed by people drinking five or more drinks in a sitting, so almost all of them are going to be impaired — if not overtly intoxicated. This is exactly the kind of drinking behaviour that leads to so many deaths and second-hand problems that inflict real pain and costs on society, not just the drinker," said Naimi, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC's Division of Adult and Community Health.
"These are some of the most dangerous groups — underage drinkers, people who drank eight or more drinks on one occasion and people who drove during or just after their drinking episode.
"Sadly, there's lots of binge drinking going on with all kinds of drinks, and there are lots of effective polices that haven't been widely adopted.
"And there are other laws, like those related to selling alcohol to minors or selling to those who are already drunk, that aren't reliably enforced," he added.
Another reason, Dr Naimi pointed out, that beer is the preferred drink is because it is sold in more locations than distilled spirits or liquor, and that it was available in places like convenience stores and gas stations.
"Beer is sold in far more locations, especially outlets like convenience stores and gas stations — where impulse purchases are common. Beer taxes at the state and federal level are low and beer is king in terms of aggressive marketing to young adults, who are especially likely to drink and get drunk," Naimi said.
"All of these factors may, and I underscore 'may,' contribute to our study findings," he said.
"Choosing a beverage is extremely complex and some of the decision might be governed by these policy factors; some of it might be governed by social factors, family habits or country of origin. It's a complicated formula and it's a very important limitation of the study."
"But from a public health standpoint, it doesn't make sense that beer is marketed, taxed and distributed in a more permissive way than other beverages," Naimi added.
The study appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.