Epidemiology of self-reported past heavy drinking in Hispanic adults

David J. Lee, Kyriakos S. Markides, Laura A. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives. Self-reports of past heavy drinking correlate with the current drinking practices and with risk of mortality in non-Hispanic males. The prevalence of past heavy drinking has not been reported in Hispanic populations. Methods. Using data from the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES) we (1) report on the prevalence, duration and severity of past heavy drinking in three Hispanic groups, (2) compare the current alcohol consumption patterns among past heavy drinkers and those who do not report a history of past heavy drinking and (3) compare the risk factor profiles and health indicators in these two groups. Results. The prevalence of past heavy drinking among Mexican American and Puerto Rican males ranged from 28-35% while the rates for Cuban American males ranged from 7-16%. The rates for Hispanic women were much lower (1-8%). The average years of past heavy drinking ranged from 2.3-14.9 years, while the alcohol consumption during the past heavy drinking period ranged from 24.4-44.0 drinks per week. Past heavy drinkers tended to consume more alcohol at present than did never heavy drinkers with the greatest differences found for Mexican American females. Comparisons of the risk factors and health indicators by drinking status revealed a higher prevalence of smoking among past heavy drinkers (50-60%) versus never heavy drinkers (34-43%). Past heavy drinking Mexican American females also reported significantly more chronic conditions and depressive symptoms than did never heavy drinkers. Conclusions. Prevalence rates of past heavy drinking among Mexican American and Puerto Rican males are approximately three times higher than rates reported for non-Hispanic male populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Ethnicity
  • Heavy drinking
  • Hispanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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