Federal 'Nannies' on a Binge
Byline: Steven Milloy, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
If you woke up on New Year's Day with a hangover, you must have missed the federal government's not-so-subtle effort to shame you into more moderate celebration. The feds hope to compel moderation in the future.
"Binge drinking on the rise in U.S." was the message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on New Year's Eve.
"Binge drinking" - the latest government-manufactured public health crisis - is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion. CDC researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jan. 1) that binge-drinking episodes increased from 1.2 billion in 1993 to 1.5 billion in 2001. Binge-drinking episodes per person per year supposedly increased 17 percent (from 6.3 to 7.4) during that period.
The CDC says this is the first study to estimate the prevalence of binge drinking.
The researchers weren't satisfied merely with publishing the results of their research. They also offered policy recommendations to curb binge drinking, including more laws and regulations, increased alcohol taxes and - perhaps the most appalling - screening all adults and adolescents for alcohol abuse.
The federal nannies also complained that those below the legal drinking age are exposed to "widespread marketing of beer and wine via television and print media" and that "much of the general public considers alcohol intoxication to be either humorous or a rite of passage."
But before lawmakers and regulatory agencies make us urinate into cups as part of some national anti-alcohol crusade, there are a few things to know about CDC's "research."
First, the data were collected by a telephone survey of dubious methodology.
As part of the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, interviewers randomly dialed about 200,000 adults and asked questions about alcohol consumption.
The interviewers asked respondents whether they had a drink in the last 30 days, how often they drink, how much they drink, how often in the past month they consumed more than five drinks on a single occasion, and how often they drove after having too much to drink. Information also was collected on age, sex, race, and level of education.
This telephone survey methodology is seriously flawed for two reasons. …