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State College dubbed Pennsylvania’s ‘drunkest city’

Tom Fontaine

State College ranks as Pennsylvania's “drunkest city,” with more than one in five adults reporting that they drink excessively, according to a report out this week .

The financial news website 24/7 Wall St. said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that 22.3 percent of State College residents binge drink or drink heavily, well above the state average of 18.1 percent and national average of 18 percent.

The CDC defines binge drinking as having at least five drinks on a single occasion for men and at least four for women, while heavy drinking is having at least 15 drinks a week for men and at least eight for women.

“Few groups are more likely to drink excessively than college students,” the 24/7 Wall St. report said, noting that State College is home to Penn State and nearly a quarter of the metro area's residents are enrolled in college or graduate school.

Penn State, which did not return messages from the Tribune-Review, has wrestled for years with problems related to excessive drinking.

In 2011, a judge ordered members of a Penn State fraternity to serve 70 hours of community service in connection with the 2009 death of a freshman engineering student. Joseph Dado, a Greater Latrobe High School graduate, died from head injuries suffered when he fell down a campus stairwell after drinking at the fraternity. His blood-alcohol level was 0.169 percent, or more than double the legal limit for drivers in Pennsylvania.

Penn State unveiled a host of new, more stringent alcohol-related policies for fraternities and sororities this school year in response to February's death of sophomore fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza, 19. Authorities said members of that fraternity, now closed, gave Piazza 18 drinks in under an hour and a half and waited 12 hours to call for help after he suffered multiple injuries.

The 24/7 Wall St. report said that excessive drinking is responsible for about one in every 10 deaths among working-age adults and took a $250 billion toll on the U.S. economy in 2010, including costs for motor vehicle crashes, medical bills and lost productivity.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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