April 2, 2003

Definitions of Binge DrinkingDefinitions of Binge Drinking

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(13):1635-1636. doi:10.1001/jama.289.13.1635

To the Editor: In their article on binge drinking among US adults Dr Naimi and colleagues1 defined binge drinking as "the consumption of 5 or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion." Although this definition of abusive drinking is frequently used in research, it may have little clinical relevance.

First, this definition does not account for the drinker's weight or drinking history, the time period over which the alcohol was consumed, or whether any food was eaten during the drinking episode. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that a sizeable percentage of so-called binge drinkers fail to reach blood alcohol concentrations of 0.06% or higher.2,3

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