If you have two drinks a day, you're only in the top 20% of of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption.

This chart from Wonkblog's Christopher Ingraham pretty much speaks for itself, but this figure still made me do a double take:

...in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you'd still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.

The top 10 percent of American drinkers - 24 million adults over age 18 - consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.


As Ingraham points out, if you're in that top decile, you almost certainly have a drinking problem of the heart-, brain-, and liver-melting variety (as opposed to other, less-obvious varieties ). Philip J. Cook – from whose book, Paying the Tab, Ingraham's statistics originated – highlights another disturbing takeaway: "The heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry," he writes. "If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent."

More analysis at Wonkblog.


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