APPLETON – Outagamie and Calumet counties have the nation’s highest percentages of residents who report binge drinking, according to new county health rankings from the University of Wisconsin.
The school’s population health institute publish the ranking every year, rating the health of nearly every county in the United States based on a variety of factors including alcohol consumption, smoking, air pollution, access to medical care, unemployment, and crime violent.
While Outagamie and Calumet counties rank in the state’s top quarter for overall health, they had the highest percentage of heavy drinkers in Wisconsin and across the country.
Data shows that 31% of adults in Outagamie County reported binge drinking or binge drinking in the past 30 days. Thirty percent of adults in Calumet County reported the same thing, compared to 19% of adults nationally.
Binge drinking is defined in the survey as a woman consuming four or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion or a man consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion.
Binge drinking is defined as a woman drinking more than one drink on average per day or a man drinking more than two drinks on average per day.
Dozens of other counties in Wisconsin feature high on the nation’s list, including Walworth, Pierce, Polk, Dunn, Pepin, Waukesha and Kewaunee counties, where 29% of adults reported binge drinking in the country. during the month preceding data collection.
In Winnebago County, 28% of adults reported binge drinking.
“We recognize the magnitude of the alcohol culture in Wisconsin and in our county,” Natalie Vandeveld, Outagamie County health official, wrote in an email. “In order to bring about positive change, it will take a collective approach to support best practice policy, education and focus on tackling the harmful social norms surrounding alcohol in our communities.”
Data shows that binge drinking is also expensive, and not just for those who participate in it. Excessive alcohol consumption costs the state nearly $ 4 billion a year, according to a 2019 report from the Population Health Institute, or approximately $ 666 per resident. This economic cost is categorized into four parts: health care costs, lost productivity, criminal justice, and other costs associated with excessive alcohol consumption, such as car accidents.
In Outagamie County, it cost residents an average of $ 771 and in Calumet County, $ 869.
Annie von Neupert, project coordinator for the REACH (Reduction of Excessive Alcohol and Other Addiction for Health) coalition in Calumet County, said the number of places in the county that serve or sell l Alcohol is a powerful contributor to the culture of drinking alcohol to place it on such lists.
Calumet County has more than 130 permanent licensed liquor outlets and 90 temporary liquor permits issued by local municipalities each year, von Neupert wrote in an email.
The work of the REACH coalition to reduce binge drinking is focused on reducing alcohol use among young people, she said,
Outagamie County is also focusing on youth and young adult populations, Vandeveld said, preparing them to make good decisions about alcohol throughout their lives.