Alcohol consumption in diverse populations: How ethnicity moderates average number of drinks per day and age

Jana Wardian, Wendy Wolfersteig, Elizabeth Schepel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, more than 82% of people report using alcohol in their lifetime. The purpose of this study is to (1) examine gender, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status differences in alcohol consumption and (2) examine the relationship between age and average number of drinks per day as moderated by ethnicity. Method: The data examined are from the 2010 Arizona Health Survey (n = 7700). Regression analysis was used to determine how demographics correlate with alcohol use. In addition, ethnicity mediates age and average number of drinks per day. Results: Reported current alcohol use was highest among non-Hispanic whites compared to Hispanics and Native Americans. More non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics reported consuming alcohol than Natives; however, Natives were twice as likely to report heavy episodic drinking defined as averaging three or more drinks per day than non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics. Age and average number of drinks were moderated by ethnicity. Hispanics average less drinks as they age, non-Hispanic whites remain consistent throughout their lifetime and Native Americans average more drinks as they age. Conclusions: These results provide a unique look at drinking patterns by ethnicity over the life course. Rates of drinking that may have been safe when someone was younger may no longer be safe as the person ages and health changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Binge drinking
  • Drinking (drinkers)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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