Aim To obtain information on drinking behaviour and to examine the associations between frequency of drinking, usual daily drinking quantity and binge drinking behaviour among Chinese residents aged 15–69 years.
Design A multi-stage clustering sampling method was used to select a nationally representative sample and data were collected as part of the China Chronic Disease and Risk Factor Surveillance by face-to-face interview.
Setting Respondents were selected randomly from 160 counties/districts scattered over 31 provinces/autonomous regions/municipalities between August and October, 2007.
Participants Weighted analyses included 49 527 Chinese residents (aged 15–69 years).
Measurements Prevalence of current drinking and usual daily quantity, median number of annual binge drinking episodes, proportions of excessive drinking, frequent drinking and binge drinking among current drinkers were the main measurements.
Results The prevalence of male, female and total current drinking was 55.6%, 15.0% and 35.7%, respectively. On average, male drinkers consumed 47.8 g alcohol per drinking day, whereas females consumed 19.1 g. The median numbers of annual binge drinking episodes were 5.6 for male drinkers and 2.4 for females. Among the current drinkers, proportions of excessive drinking, frequent dinking and binge drinking were 62.7%, 26.3%, 57.3% for men and 51.0%, 7.8%, 26.6% for women, respectively. Logistic regressions showed that binge drinking was associated strongly with drinking frequency and drinking quantity increased with drinking frequency for both genders.
Conclusions Excessive drinking, frequent drinking and binge drinking behaviour have reached epidemic proportions among current drinkers in China, and culturally appropriate public health strategies to reduce hazardous drinking behaviour are needed.