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Infographic: Minnesota sits in the Beer Belly of America


People in every state like beer. But some states seem to like it more than others.

Nothing shows that better than this map by the folks at FloatingSheep.

The map (click to enlarge) compares the number of bars in an area to the number of grocery stores in the same area, based on data scraped from Google Maps. A yellow dot means there are more grocery stores. A red dot, more bars.

Notice a trend in and around our fair state of Minnesota?

Feast your eyes on the Beer Belly of America, the bulging expanse of America's Midwest (appropriately hanging over the Bible Belt to the south) where you'll often find more places to guzzle booze than gather groceries.

Whether that makes you proud or perturbed is up to you. If you're a Minnesotan though, here's some good-or-bad news: The North Star State has the smallest concentration of bars compared to every single neighboring states. FloatingSheep looked at establishments officially classified with the NACIS as Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) and compared it to population density.

Long question short: How many bars are there compared to humans? The national average is 1.52 bars per 10,000 people. The site's discovery:

Rank | State | Bars Per 10,000 Population

1. North Dakota 6.54

2. Montana 6.34

3. Wisconsin 5.88

4. South Dakota 4.73

5. Iowa 3.73

6. Nebraska 3.68

7. Wyoming 3.4

(Note: The site only ranked the top seven, which Minnesota did not appear in).

FloatingSheep's findings (both the map and stats) actually fit well with some more official numbers.

CBS News took data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ranked the states with the biggest binge drinking problem. Wisconsin took first with 23.9 percent of adults saying they binge drank in 2009. North Dakota ranked second and Minnesota third.

More recent numbers from the CDC looked at the drunkest cities. Up first? Fargo, with 28.2 percent described as binge drinkers, and 9.6 percent heavy drinkers. Brookings, South Dakota came in fifth and Milwaukee sixth, according to Bustle, which ranked the top 10.

FOX News' report about Beer Institute data also ranked North Dakota atop the list – its resident consume 45.8 gallons of beer per capita each year.

The site The Street broke down numbers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's most recent surveillance report (which you can see in full here). The analysis takes the total sales of alcoholic beverages, and divides it by census population data – ages 14 and up, to account for underage drinkers, The Street notes.

A Midwest state didn't appear until No. 5 actually, with North Dakota taking that spot. Wisconsin takes sixth, Montana eighth, and South Dakota 10th.

The site notes Wisconsin and North Dakota have the first- and second-highest rate of binge drinking, respectively.

No matter which way you pour it, the numbers show the Midwest likes to drink.

But despite the often-fun photos of bar patrons and delicious drinks that accompany these lists, the CDC is concerned. The center says at least 38 million adults in the U.S. drink too much – for men, that's 15 or more drinks, on average per week; for women, it's eight or more drinks. "Drinking too much" also includes alcohol consumption by pregnant women people under the age of 21.

The CDC recommends drinking in moderation, and talking to your doctor about drinking.

Binge drinking is also a problem the CDC has highlighted. The center says it can lead to a number of health issues (from sexually transmitted diseases to high blood pressure), and cost the U.S. $223.5 billion in 2006 due to losses in productivity, health care, crime, and more.

The CDC considers binge drinking to be five or more drinks for men, four or more for women, within about two hours.

WCCO reported last year binge drinking among women is an under-recognized problem. The station says bar with women-oriented promotions (such as women drink free) have picked up on – and taken advantage of – that.

And in a piece from two years ago, The Atlantic called Illinois – which, if you remember from the map above, has a lot of red dots – the center of the nation's "Binge Drinking Belt." Most of the states in the "Beer Belly of America" came in as having among the highest rate of binge drinking in the nation (which you can see in the map below).

The Atlantic considers the role long, cold winters may play in making the Midwest the Binge Drinking Belt – or, if you prefer, the Beer Belly of America – but notes Hawaii also ranks high.

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