One in Five Americans Say Moderate Drinking Is Healthy

One in Five Americans Say Moderate Drinking Is Healthy

One in Five Americans Say Moderate Drinking Is Healthy

The FINANCIAL -- Significantly more Americans believe moderate alcohol consumption is bad for one's health (28%) than believe it is good (17%). The percentage of those viewing alcohol as beneficial is the lowest Gallup has found in this 15-year trend. A slight majority of Americans, 52%, believe drinking in moderation has no effect on one's health.

Gallup defines "moderate drinking" as consuming one or two drinks a day, which lines up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of moderate drinking. These findings are from Gallup's July 8-12 Consumption Habits survey. In the same poll, 64% of Americans said they drink alcohol. This is similar to the national average for the past two decades, according to Gallup.

Americans' experiences with alcohol appear to influence their beliefs about the health benefits of moderate drinking. For example, Americans who drink alcohol are more likely to believe it is good for their health (20%) than those who do not drink (12%). Similarly, those who have had a drink in the past day are more likely than those who have had a drink in the past week to believe moderate alcohol intake is good for their health, at 34% and 13%, respectively.

Americans who report that drinking has been a "cause of trouble" in their family are more likely to say that drinking is bad for one's health than those who have not had drinking-related problems in their family (37% vs. 24%, respectively). However, similar percentages of both groups say that drinking is good for one's health.

Groups That Are More Likely to Drink Also More Likely to Say It's Healthy

Population groups that are more likely to report they drink, such as men, those with higher incomes and those with more education, are also less likely to say they believe drinking is unhealthy. For instance, while women are twice as likely to believe drinking in moderation is bad for one's health (30%) as to believe it is good (14%), men are only slightly more likely to say drinking is unhealthy (26%) than to say it is healthy (20%).

The relationship between Americans' drinking habits and their beliefs about the effects of drinking on health is unknown, however. It could be that those who drink are more inclined to believe it is good for their health out of personal experience, or as a way to rationalize their lifestyle choices. Or those who believe drinking is healthy may actively choose to drink as a way to improve their health.