By Jason Knapfel
Binging issues of various kinds have made headlines in recent weeks, including the growing problem of drunkorexia and odd food concoctions used by binge eaters. Now a recent report shows the prevalence of binge drinking, specifically among women.
According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight women in the U.S. is a binge drinker. It’s even worse with high school girls, who binge drink at a rate of one in five.
The implications of binge drinking are so much more than a massive headache the next day. The CDC estimates it is responsible for about 12,000 deaths each year. Excessive alcohol as a whole is responsible for about 23,000 annual female deaths in the United States.
CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden says binge drinking is “the most common and dangerous form of drinking,” and Dr. Richard Brewer, head of the CDC’s alcohol program, says it’s “not a new problem for women and girls, but it is an under-recognized problem for women and girls.”
Binge drinking is defined as drinking at least four alcoholic drinks in one sitting. The CDC report found that 12.5 percent of adult women meet the criteria. They did so 3.2 times a month with 5.7 drinks on average each time.
The report focused on female binge drinking, but the dangerous behavior is much worse with men, who binge drink twice as much (though the numbers are pretty even with teenagers). Even so, Frieden and Brewer expressed their concern for the higher health risks with women, since they metabolize alcohol differently and tend to have higher blood alcohol levels. Risks include unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease, and breast cancer.
“Parents play a key role in preventing youth from starting or continuing to drink,” said Frieden. In addition, he also feels community programs and health care providers play an important role.