What was once thought just to be frat boys wearing togas is a much different crowd these days. A new study by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that 20 percent of teenage girls, or one in five, are binge drinking. The Vital Signs report also found that one in eight adult American women between the ages of 18 and 34 binge drink.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or five alcoholic beverages in a time span of two hours. Research has shown that these two groups of women binge drink approximately three times per month and swallow six drinks on each instance.
Officials are warning that this could lead to long-term health problems, such as liver disease, high blood pressure, breast cancer, neurological damage and short-term health issues, including injuries, and even unintended pregnancy because of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“Although binge drinking is more prevalent among men, women who binge drink are at high risk for alcohol-attributable harms, in part because they differ from men in their physiologic response to alcohol consumption,” the report stated. “Women tend to reach higher blood alcohol levels than men at the same consumption level, even after taking into account differences in body size, food consumption, and other factors.”
The report found that binge drinking occurred in households with higher income. Teenage girls and women 18 to 34 were reported to binge the most in households earning annual incomes of at least $75,000.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden labeled binge drinking as “the most common and dangerous form of drinking”. Speaking during a teleconference, according to ABC News, he said that binge drinking among women isn’t a new problem, but rather an “underrecognized problem for women and girls”.
Another aspect of the report found that older women may perhaps be influencing younger girls to take part in such a practice. The data suggested that teenage girls are aspiring to be young adults. It also discovered that teenagers usually obtain alcohol from adults.
One method being suggested to tackle the problem head-on is for families, the community and health care providers to get involved. Frieden noted that parents play a pivotal part in the prevention process. He added that community programs and counseling by health care workers also play a vital role.
“Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do,” said Frieden in an interview with USA Today. “Each of us can choose not to binge drink.”
Frieden concluded by offering this advice to women who consume alcohol: “Never four or more.”