Binge Drinking and Obesity Increasing in Broward and Palm Beach Counties

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Residents in Broward and Palm Beach counties are drunker and fatter than before, according new statistics released by the Florida Department of Health.

The Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey -- which questions around 500 people in each county in the state about health habits -- showed that a majority of counties saw a lower percentage of its residents engaging in binge and heavy drinking, but Broward and Palm Beach counties did not follow suit.

While 13.3 percent of Broward County residents reported engaging in heavy drinking or binge drinking in 2007, 16.1 percent reported engaging in those drinking habits in the new statistics for last year, according to the report.

Binge drinking and heavy drinking increased in Palm Beach County from 14.6 to 14.8 percent in the same time frame, though that is still a bit below the statewide average of 15 percent for last year, which decreased from 16.2 percent in 2007.

The report doesn't differentiate between "heavy" and "binge" drinking statistically but does provide a definitional difference -- "binge" drinking includes consuming four or more alcoholic beverages for women and five or more for men on a single occasion. "Heavy" or "chronic" drinking is defined as women averaging one or more alcoholic drinks a day -- two or more for men -- over 30 days.

It may not be hard to imagine, but Monroe County has the largest percentage of binge/heavy drinkers at 25.1 percent, an increase from 22.3 percent in 2007. It also reported the highest percentage of self-admitted drunk drivers, in which 4.1 percent reported driving after consuming "too many" alcoholic beverages in the 30 days preceding the survey.

The report also shows that folks in Broward and Palm Beach counties are getting chunky -- 28 percent of Broward County residents qualify as obese (a 7.5 increase over 2007), and 19.4 percent of Palm Beach County people are obese, which is a near-5 percent increase over 2007 but still makes Palm Beach the second-least obese county in the state.

Statewide, 27.2 percent of people are obese, compared to 24.1 percent in 2007.

For the sake of comparison, Hardee County has the highest concentration of fatsos, with 46.1 percent of people qualifying as obese, up from 33.6 percent just three years prior. And despite its alcohol habits, Monroe County is the least obese in the state at 17.4 percent.

The percentage of people who qualify as merely "overweight" is 37.2 percent in Broward County and 41.8 percent in Palm Beach County.

If there's good news from the survey, it's that the number of cigarette smokers in the two counties. Both Broward and Palm Beach counties reported a decrease in smokers over the past three years -- from over 18 percent to 13.7 percent in Broward and from 17.5 percent to 9 percent in Palm Beach.

As one last fact of wisdom, Broward County has the third-lowest percentage of people who reported taking measures to prevent pregnancy, at 48.7 percent.

You can find the entire report from the Florida Department of Health by clicking here.

Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Matthew Hendley on Facebook and on Twitter: @MatthewHendley.

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