Student drinking almost equal by gender

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Female College students appear to be binge-drinking at least as often as their male counterparts and sometimes match them drink for drink, according to research published in the latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal.

The study, by UCC’s student health department, expressed concerns at the changing drinking behaviour of female students. It found that almost 45 per cent of students surveyed at UCC’s health centre went binge-drinking once a week. A binge was defined as at least four pints or a bottle of wine or its equivalent in a single sitting.

More than eight students in 10 said they had binged in the previous year. Some 45.5 per cent of male students said they had binged more than once a week compared with 44.5 per cent of female students. The Clan lifestyle survey conducted in 2002-2003 found that the male-female binge-drinking ratio was 60-40.

“Females are drinking similar numbers of measures of drinks as males which is a particular concern given that the recommended maximum weekly alcohol intake for females is only two-thirds recommended for males [14 units v 21 units a week],” the study said.

When females drank spirits, they had an average of five a session while males drank 4.7 measures. With beer and cider, males drank an average 4.5 pints compared with women’s 3.7 pints.

Nearly one in four male drinkers said they had been in a fight as a result of their drinking and one in 10 students reported unintentional or unprotected sex as a result of alcohol. Men were more likely to have been abused or assaulted because of someone else’s drinking while women were more likely to have arguments about someone else’s drinking.

The study recommended that alcohol and drug groups be set up in every third-level institution.
Source: The Irish Times, 29/09/10
Journalist: Alison Healy