CDC’s Data Exposes Alcohol Trends

April 28, 2016 12:00 pm PST | Data as a Service

Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) datasets to better understand alcohol usage in America. CDC data is used by a wide range of users, including state and local governments who use the data to identify where to allocate resources and how they compare to their peers.

Youth Alcohol Trends

According to the CDC, youth alcohol consumption has decreased among U.S. high school students over the past decade. This data comes from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a survey that monitors health-related behaviors that contribute to chronic conditions and death. The data can be found on the federal agency’s open data site, powered by Socrata. According to the data, the state of New Jersey has the highest percentage of alcohol use among youth (over 39 percent) and Utah comes in with the lowest, with just 11 percent of youth saying they drank alcohol. Through the Socrata-powered platform, citizens, researchers, and policymakers can now easily find and use valuable statistics published by CDC.

Binge Drinking By State

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is a telephone survey that collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventative services. Binge drinking in adults over the age of 18 is just one chronic disease indicator found through the BRFSS. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol level to .08 percent or more. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.

What states have the highest prevalence of binge drinking? According to the BRFSS, North Dakota tops the list, with 24.4 percent of the adult population identified as binge drinkers; Wisconsin comes in next at 23.9 percent, followed by Iowa (23.2 percent), Illinois (22.4 percent), and Montana (22.3 percent). Check out the graph below to see where your state ranks.


The examples above show how the CDC is making a difference by publishing its data — fueling discussions about alcohol awareness, allowing policymakers to identify areas that need support, and helping stakeholders identify where to invest money and resources. These are all examples of how open data can have a powerful impact. For more information, check out our guide to discover more benefits of open data.

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