The Midwest is home to the 50 drunkest counties in the United States, including one in Minnesota and a whopping 41 in Wisconsin.
24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 drunkest counties in the U.S out of 3,106 counties using data from the 2021 County Health Rankings and Roadmap report by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
In every county on the list, more than one in four adults drinks excessively. Nationwide, fewer than one in five adults drinks excessively.
Le Sueur County in south-central Minnesota, ranking No. 38, is the only Minnesota county on the list. According to 24/7 Wall St., 27.2% of adults there reported they binge drank or drank heavily in the past 30 days.
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for a woman and five or more drinks for a man on a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men.
The county has a median income of $71,080 (the 291st highest of 3,106 counties reviewed). According to the publication, 12.9% of adults report poor or fair health (146th lowest) and 31.3% of the driving deaths in the county involved alcohol (1,057th highest).
The State of Wisconsin, though, is home to 41 of the 50 drunkest counties. More than half of the state's 72 counties made the list, including nine of the 12 counties that border Minnesota.
Coming in at No. 1 overall is Outagamie County, Wisconsin, with 31% of adults reporting they binge drink or drink heavily.
The northeastern Wisconsin county, which includes the city of Appleton, has a median income of $65,572 (436th highest of 3,106 counties). According to the publication, 13.7% of adults report poor or fair health (259th lowest) and 32% of driving deaths involve alcohol (993rd highest).
The top five drunkest counties are:
- Outagamie County, Wisconsin
- Calumet County, Wisconsin (29.8% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
- Walworth County, Wisconsin (29.3% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
- Pierce County, Wisconsin (28.9% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
- Polk County, Wisconsin (28.8% of adults report binge or heavy drinking)
Iowa is home to six counties on the list, while North Dakota and South Dakota each have one county on the list.
Health officials say moderate drinking (two drinks for men, one drink for women) carries relatively little risk, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying "drinking less is better for health than drinking more."
Excessive drinking, though, is one of four main risk factors for preventable disease (tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are the others). The short-term risks of drinking too much include impaired judgment, which can lead to injuries or death, and alcohol poisoning. Long-term risks include liver disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, poor mental health and alcohol use disorders, according to the CDC.
The CDC says excessive alcohol use led to about 95,000 deaths annually in the U.S. from 2011-2015, and it shortened the lives of those who died by an average of 29 years.
In Minnesota in 2019, 60.5% of adults said they drank alcohol and 20.7% of adults reporting they binge drank, giving Minnesota one of the highest binge drinking rates in the nation that year, the Minnesota Department of Health says.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, you can call the national helpline at 800-662-4357. The Minnesota Department of Human Services also has a website with treatment options for alcohol or drug use.