US/World

Rich Women Most Likely to Binge Drink

Women Drinking
Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women and five or more drinks per occasion for men. Creative Commons

Women with household incomes greater than or equal to $75,000 showed the highest prevalence for binge drinking in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women (and five or more drinks per occasion for men). 

In 2011, CDC reports, more than 13.6 million (or 12.5 percent) of US adult women binge drank an average of three times a month at which times they consumed six drinks on average.

Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the estimated 23,000 deaths and 633,000 years of potential life lost among women and girls in the US. Potential life lost was calculated using death and life expectancy data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Though more prevalent among men, binge drinking affects women in equally adverse ways. Having a different physiologic response to alcohol consumption than men, women tend to reach higher blood alcohol levels at the same consumption level as men, even after taking into account differences in body size, food consumption, and other factors.

Risk of accidental pregnancy is increased by binge drinking. Women tend to have delayed recognition of unintentional pregnancies, which increases the risk for adverse health outcomes, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

In 2011, more than one in three high school girls reported drinking and one in five reported binge drinking; among the high school girls who drank, most reported binge drinking. The prevalence and intensity of binge drinking was highest with the age range of 18-24 years.

Published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the CDC report does not include information collected from institutional settings (such as college campuses or military bases).

Another limitation is the fact that the data is self-reported. Alcohol consumption generally, and excessive drinking in particular, are often underreported because of issues of recall as well as social desirability.

To determine the prevalence, frequency, and intensity of binge drinking among adult women, CDC analyzed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual, state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey. The numbers for high school girls were derived from data included in the 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire completed by students in public- and private-school, grades 9-12, in all 50 states and DC.

 

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