Healthy living

Binge drinking: women as bad as men in UK

Binge drinking: women as bad as men in UK Among the worst in Europe

British women are almost as bad as men when it comes to binge drinking, and worse than their European counterparts, research has revealed.

In a European study, experts at University College London found that 7.7 per cent of British women binge-drink compared with 8.9 per cent of men.

The researchers looked at binge drinking rates in six European countries: the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Portugal, involving some 6,500 'non-hazardous' or normal drinkers.

Binge drinking for men is defined as drinking more than eight units of alcohol at one sitting, at least once a month. For women, it is drinking more than six units of alcohol at one sitting, at least once a month.

Overall, 4.5 per cent of the men and women in the countries studied were found to be binge-drinkers.

The Netherlands had the highest rate, where 8.4 per cent were classified as binge-drinkers, but the UK was close behind with 8.1 per cent.

But the gap between binge drinking rates in men and women was narrowest in the UK.

Some five per cent of women in the Netherlands were binge-drinkers compared with two per cent of Estonian women, one per cent of Portuguese and Slovenian women, and less than one per cent of Spanish women.

Past research has shown that the UK has one of the highest binge drinking rates in Europe, and around one in four adults in England participate in binge drinking.

Professor Irwin Nazareth, who led the study, urged GPs to raise awareness of the hazards of binge drinking among their patients.

He added: "It is quite fashionable for footballers to drink heavily, to trash places. The image that young people get is that that is quite acceptable to do.

"It is considered a bit edgy, risky, fashionable. These are the role models for a younger generation."

Some studies have shown that drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time may be particularly bad for health.

Aggressive behaviour, memory disturbances, mood changes, an increased risk of accidental injury and even death due to alcohol poisoning have all been linked to binge drinking.

This article was published on Fri 19 August 2011

Image © Monkey Business -

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