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One-fifth of Americans are binge drinkers

Sixty percent of U.S. adults drink alcohol and up to 20 percent are binge drinkers, according to a new comprehensive report of American habits and vices released Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

Sixty percent of U.S. adults drink alcohol and up to 20 percent are binge drinkers, according to a new comprehensive report of American habits and vices released Wednesday.

About 23 percent are smokers, and half have never touched a cigarette, according to the survey from the National Center for Health Statistics.

More than 60 percent claim to get some sort of leisure time exercise, and one in four say they work out with weights or do some other form of strength training.

About 22 percent were obese, meaning they are 20 percent or more overweight, and an additional 35 percent were overweight in the 1999-2000 study period.

About 40 percent were in a healthy weight range and despite fears about media images contributing to unhealthy expectations about thinness, just two percent were underweight, the report found.

Smokers trying to quit
The NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the fact sheet released Wednesday is the most detailed look yet at the health habits of Americans.

It said six in 10 U.S. adults were current drinkers in 1999-2001 and about 25 percent said they were lifetime abstainers. “Nearly one-third of adults were classified as light drinkers (3 or fewer drinks per week),” the NCHS said in a statement.

Just 5 percent were classified as heavier drinkers, which for a woman means seven or more drinks per week and 14 a week for men.

But 20 percent said they sometimes drank five or more drinks a day, which qualifies as binge drinking.

Among all adults, about 19 percent said they smoked daily, taking in on average one pack a day. More than 40 percent of smokers said they had tried to quit in the past year.

The study found that men and women are equally likely to be obese, and men were more likely than women to be physically active in their leisure time.

In general, Americans of Asian descent were less likely to have succumbed to unhealthy behaviors such as drinking too much, smoking or to be overweight, the report found.