The King of Beers
earns a dubious distinction
By Jacob Davidson
It’s a well known fact that alcohol consumption can lead to more than just a bad hangover. When people have too much to drink, they’re more likely to make all sorts of bad choices that can lead to injury, or even a trip to the hospital.
Now, a new study has attempted to find which types of alcoholic beverage are most likely to land drinkers in the emergency room.
The leading culprit: Budweiser.
According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the iconic American beer is also quite popular among drinkers who don’t make the best decisions. Despite making up only 9.1% of domestic beer sales, Budweiser holds a disproportionate 15% of the market amongst those who end their nights in the ER for some sort of injury.
However, while Budweiser is the worst single offender, it’s a bit of an outlier amongst the data. That’s because malt liquor, not regular lagers, is the vastly more popular choice among the emergency room set.
According to the study, Steel Reserve Malt Liquor came in second to Budweiser, but proportionally, it blew the brand out of the water. Steel Reserve Malt Liquor makes up .8% of the beer market, but a whopping 14.7% of the ER market, only .3% less than Budweiser.
Even more revealing, malt liquors as a whole make up a paltry 2.4% of the US beer trade, but a full 46% of the alcohol consumed by emergency room goers. After Steel Reserve, the third and fourth most popular ER alcohols are also malt beverages: Colt 45 and Bud Ice. Bud Light and Barton’s, a discount brand of vodka, take the next two spots.
So why are malt beverages so prolific in hospitals? The most obvious answer is the comparatively large amount of alcohol per drink. While a bottle Budweiser contains 5% alcohol, the highest percentage among Amerca’s top five best-selling beers, it’s nothing compared to Steel Reserve’s 8.1% alcohol content.
While the study should shed light on which brands are most correlated with injury, more research is still needed. David Jernigan, the study’s director, cautioned that the study only included interviews with 105 hospital patients, and all from one hospital in Baltimore.
However, Jernigan pointed out that the study proves this sort of research is possible, something he claims the Federal Trade Commission had previously denied.
According to Traci Toomey, the director of the University of Minnesota’s alcohol epidemiology program, that’s good news. As she explained to NBC, this sort of data can hopefully lead to insights on how alcohol is marketed, and potentially prevent injuries in the future.
“Some products are marketed to certain groups of people in our society,” said Toomey, “So we might want to put some controls on certain products if we find they are tied to greater risk. But how they are marketed and priced is critical information and that has been very hard to study.”