Bad news for public health officials. Binge drinking is becoming more prevalent in America. Especially among women.
A new study in the American Journal of Public Health found the a 36 percent increase in binge drinking among women from 2002 and 2012. Men increased their binge drinking rate by 23 percent over the same period.
Men are still more likely to binge drink overall, but the rapid increase among women is troubling. Ali Mokdad, the lead author of the study, talked about the research with Kaiser Health News.
“It seems like women are trying to catch up to the men in binge drinking. It’s really, really scary.”
The study did not delve into possible causes behind the jump, nor did they segment the research into age groups. Expect future research to look at any causation or correlation for the increase.
One theory and a sound one came from Tom Greenfield, scientific director of the Alcohol Research Group in Oakland, CA. He points out the change in social norms. We live in a world where it is more socially acceptable for women to binge drink in the same manner as men.
It makes sense. You don’t have to search far on social media to see pictures of both men and women drinking alcohol excessively.
Defining Binge Drinking
For the study, researchers defined binge drinking as more than five drinks for men and more than four for women. In one sitting. Yes, I know some of you will scoff at the notion five beers is binge drinking.
The CDC considers more than fifteen drinks per week for men and eight for women to excessive drinking. Just because you’re not a lightweight, doesn’t mean you should take this as a challenge.
Health Impact of Excessive Alcohol
Both excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking are costly to Americans. The CDC attributes 88,000 deaths each year to alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is also a drain fiscally.
Costs stretch past $224 billion each year, and the number of heavy drinking Americans continues its rise. This new research found a 17.2 percent increase since 2005.
As for solutions? More awareness. You can forget prohibition. We tried it, and it failed. Plus, people are free to make their choices. Those that engage in binge drinking need to know they are rolling the dice with their health.
Know your limits, and the night out should not turn into a competition of who can down the most alcohol.