Americans are drinking less, which may suggest a healthy change in attitude about alcohol and health, the government said Wednesday.
Health Secretary Otis R. Bowen documented the findings in the Sixth Special Report to Congress on Alcohol and Health, which concluded that per capita consumption of alcoholic beverages decreased from 2.76 gallons of pure alcohol for every person aged 14 years and older in 1981 to 2.65 gallons in 1984.
"This is the amount of alcohol one would obtain from approximately 50 gallons of beer, 20 gallons of wine, or more than four gallons of distilled spirits," the report said. "This level of consumption is the lowest since 1977, and it reflects the continued gradual decline in per capita consumption that has been under way since 1981."
By finding a decrease in consumption of alcohol, the report suggests a change in attitude by Americans about alcohol-related health issues.
"Progress in understanding the health, social and economic effects of alcohol use is vital to our efforts to fight alcohol abuse and the disease of alcoholism," Bowen said.
The report said heavy drinkers--an estimated 10% of the drinking population--account for half of the alcohol consumed in the United States.
In addition, 18 million adults 18 years old and older have an alcohol-related problem.