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What Kind of Beer Is Most Likely to Land You in the E.R.?

(Photo: Michelle Tribe)

(Photo: Michelle Tribe)

A new study (gated) published in Substance Abuse & Misuse and summarized by Anahad O’Connor in The New York Times identifies the brands of beer most often drunk by people who end up in a hospital emergency room:

The study, carried out over the course of a year at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, found that five beer brands were consumed most often by people who ended up in the emergency room. They were Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light.

Three of the brands are malt liquors, which typically contain more alcohol than regular beer. Four malt liquors accounted for nearly half of the beer consumption by emergency room patients, even though they account for less than 3 percent of beer consumption in the general population.

While it might make some sense to focus on malt liquor because it is more intoxicating, I am guessing it would be more fruitful to focus on the top E.R. brands as demographic markers — i.e., the people most likely to drink these brands are the most likely to drink enough to do something that lands them in the E.R. To that point, price likely plays a big role as well.

It is interesting that the war on smoking has been increasingly successful because of cigarette tax hikes, while the damage caused by alcohol consumption has, to my knowledge, hardly been addressed through similar means.

I recently had a conversation with a college president who, when asked to name the top three problems he’s facing, said:

  1. Alcohol abuse
  2. Alcohol abuse
  3. Alcohol abuse

Would be interested to hear reader comments on this topic …