Saturday, February 2, 2013

Binge Drinking Among Adult Women and Underage Girls

The article titled, “Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Among Women and High School Girls — United States, 2011”, provides information and statistics about female alcohol users and binge drinkers. There were two surveys conducted that focused on either adult women or high school girls. The first is CDC’s telephone survey from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the second is CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS). Both methods include all 50 states and DC and produce results that quantify the number of those who participate in binge drinking, the frequency at which they drank, and the intensity of the drinking on those occasions. Each group was also analyzed further by categorizing them based on age and ethnicity. The BRFSS reported that binge drinking was most common among women between the ages of 18-24 with 24.2% of the 12.5% that was found to be the prevalence of binge drinking. The YRBS reported that the prevalence among high school girls was 37.9%. Overall, binge drinking was more common among adult women who also drank more frequently and more on those occasions. It was also concluded that the wealthier a person was ($75,000 or more) the more likely they were to binge drink. So, if someone binge drank they are likely to do so more often and consume a large amount at that time. Factors that make women more subject to alcohol exposure are the pricing, marketing, and availability of alcohol. Even more, the article states five limitations in the report that could skew the outcome of the data such as bias as a result of self-reported data, underrepresented portions of the population, low response rates, youth who do not attend school, and the definition of how many drinks actually count as binge drinking. Furthermore, the article presented advice for decreasing the prevalence of alcohol use in women.
Public Health has everything to do with preventing and controlling disease. Binge drinking and excessive alcohol use does, in fact, affect the health of the population. The risk factors of binge drinking such as unintended pregnancies, deaths, diseases, and injuries directly relate to the mission of public health. It is important for people in this profession to understand alcohol use and analyze data to be able to successfully prevent diseases and health problems associated with this behavior such as liver disease and hypertension. It is important to recognize the harmful effects of alcohol despite the fact that it is glorified in the media.
It was surprising that the statistics for alcohol use in women was similar for underage girls despite the age difference. In addition to this, it never appeared to me that underage girls were more exposed to alcohol relative to women than for underage boys relative to men. I just assumed that men and boys would be heavier alcohol consumers in today’s society. An issue with the accuracy of the self-report data may be that some people may falsify some information they provide on the survey because they do not want to appear to be heavy drinkers.
            The prevalence of binge drinking among high school and college students can be reduced by taking certain measures. Encouraging parents to monitor their children’s actions and developing alcohol education programs inside and outside of schools can greatly impact the choices that they make. Also, stricter policies can be put in place that discourage excessive alcohol consumption. In the incident that the laws are violated, tougher consequences can also be put in place for those who commit misdemeanors.  


  1. I also find it very surprising that prevalence of alcohol consumption in high school students is as high as or even higher than that of people over 18 years old. It really goes to show how the drinking age and the legal penalty of underage drinking is not effective at all. Which is why I agree with your proposed plans of alcohol education programs to reduce the prevalence of alcohol consumption.

    While creating tougher consequence will definitely reducing alcohol consumption, I find like it'll cause more harm than good (the benefit of reducing alcohol consumption is less than the problems caused for the kids); it seems like something that would work in hindsight after they've been arrested, after they get a misdemeanor on their permanent record (perhaps spoiling future career options). It seems criminal to teach a lesson by ruining some kid's future for something they've done in the past. So the proactive alcohol education programs sounds way better to me!


  2. Thanks for your post! I wanted to point out two points. First off, with regard to the "Guide to Community Preventive Services" recommendations, item 4 (measures of increasing the price of alcohol) has been proven to be the most successful way to curtail the consumption of alcohol and has disproportionate effect on the underage population. Health educational campaigns are notoriously ineffective at changing behavior, especially among adolescents.

    In the second to last paragraph the authors note that the "BRFSS does not collect information from persons living in institutional settings (e.g., on college campuses and military bases)". How might this information and the different definition of female binge drinking (4+ drinks in BRFSS and 5+ drinks in YRBS) affect your ability to compare the overall rate of binge drinking for younger and older women between the two studies?

    Thanks again for your contribution.