Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Budweiser, the classic American beer in the ornately printed red, white and blue cans isn’t just the preferred tipple of college students looking to get blitzed on a budget. According to a pilot study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it’s also the drink of choice for people who end up in emergency rooms — followed closely by Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light.
While it’s hardly surprising that beer is a significant contributing factor to emergency room visits, Budweiser’s representation in trauma centers is far in excess of its market share. As The Atlantic reported, Budweiser’s share of the domestic beer market is only 9.1 percent, but 15 percent of drinkers who visited the emergency room in Johns Hopkins’ study admitted to consuming the pale brew. Similarly, the study found that consumption of vodka, gin, brandy and cognac among ER patients far outstripped the market share of these potables.
The Johns Hopkins study was based on a small pilot sample, covering a single Baltimore inner-city hospital over the course of one year — a factor that may contribute to the outsized representation of inexpensive beers. While it is possible that Budweiser and the other top ER beers contain compounds that affect consumers more intensely, it’s more likely that the low cost of these brands of beer leads to overconsumption — and, consequently, dangerous and reckless drunken acts.
The study’s authors already have proposed a more extensive survey, which would compare consumption habits across a larger sample of cities and hospitals. The study’s lead author, David Jernigan, hopes that the study may ultimately lead to substantive changes that would help protect public health. “Understanding the relationship between alcohol brands and their connection to injury may help guide policy makers in considering taxation and physical availability of different types of alcohol given the harms associated with them,” said Jernigan, who holds a doctorate in sociology.
Until that happens, however, it may be worth remembering that just because a beer is cheaper doesn’t mean that it’s less expensive: In the long run, the best way to save money may be to stay sober.