The Closer the Bar, The More You Drink


Beer at bar photoThe population of risky drinking increases the closer you live to a bar, according to Reuters.

A recent study looked at nearly 55,000 Finnish adults over 7 years and found that those who lived closer to bars were more likely to increase their drinking. According to Reuters: “[W]hen a person moved one kilometer (0.6 mile) closer to a bar, the odds of becoming a heavy drinker rose by 17 percent. A "heavy drinker" meant more than 10 ounces a week for men and about seven ounces a week for women, of distilled alcohol.”

Researchers thought a possible explanation was that drinkers chose to live close to bars. But after looking at long time residents that didn’t move close to bars, but rather bars were opened in their area, the findings were similar in both groups. 

The findings were published in the journal Addiction. According to the study

Among people who were an average of 0.12 kilometers (400 feet) from the nearest drinking hole, a little over nine percent were heavy drinkers. Of those 2.4 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) away, some 7.5 percent were heavy drinkers.

While the increases weren’t huge they were still notable. 

The CDC considers binge drinking four drinks for a women and five for a man in a short period of time. The highest percentage of binge drinkers were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old and those over 65 binge drank the most often. Those with income levels of at least $75,000 per year were the most likely to binge drink. Thirty-eight million Americans binge drink eight drinks in a sitting, four times per month.

It’s a widespread problem that results in 80,000 deaths and cost the U.S. $223.5 billion in 2006. Drinking too much costs roughly $746 per person, or $1.90 per drink, in the US in 2006. These costs include health care expenses, crime, and lost productivity.

How close do you live to a bar scene and does it impact your intake?

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.









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