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Non-Students Report More Dangerous Behaviors Than College Student Peers

October 20, 2008

The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, commissioned a new national survey of young adults (18-24 year olds) including college students and non-students to investigate the impacts of college attendance and an active and healthy lifestyle, including involvement in sports, on underage drinking behaviors.

— Non-students report they started drinking at 15.9 years of age, nearly a year prior to college students who report they started drinking at 16.7 years old.

— Among young adults who have had alcohol in the past year, non-students report drinking 5 days in the past month compared to college students who drank 4 days in the past month. What’s more, college students who drink report consuming alcoholic beverages on an average of 34 days in the past year compared to their drinking non-student peers who reported drinking 48 days.

— Binge drinking, defined as consuming 5 drinks (or 4 drinks for females) in a two hour period, is higher among non-students compared to college students. Among young adults who have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, non-students report binge drinking on 3 occasions in the past month versus 2 occasions among college students.

— Alcohol consumption varies most between students and non-students and between men and women. Among young adults who drink, males consume on average more than their female peers – in the past month men reported drinking 6 days compared to the women’s 4 days and drank on average 50 days in the past year compared to women who reported drinking 36 days in the past year.

— About half of all of the young adults surveyed (56%) – non-students and college students – exercise or participate in a casual sport at least once a week or more. Nearly three-quarters of these adults (71%) agree that sports and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, college students are more likely to be physically active than non-students (64% versus 51%).

These research findings are part of a two-phase research study among America’s young adults conducted on behalf of The Century Council. The first phase of this study explores alcohol consumption and healthy lifestyles among college students and non-students. The second phase of the research conducted in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports, will focus more in-depth on the alcohol consumption of sport-involved women and men exploring the difference between “jocks” and “athletes” as it relates to their lifestyles, health risk behaviors, and patterns of alcohol consumption. This joint research initiative supports both organizations’ commitment to evidence-based research and policy development regarding healthy lifestyles, including sports and physical activity, and responsible decision-making regarding alcohol consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Previous studies have highlighted college sports participants as a population at risk for problem drinking. Our study shows that under some circumstances, non-students may face comparable or even greater risk,” said Don Sabo, WSF Research Director. “This is an important effort for those who wish to promote healthy lifestyles in our young Americans.”

“Regardless of whether a high school graduate directly enters the workforce or goes on to attend college, this survey reveals a need for additional alcohol education at the high school level. Making matters worse, if a young adult does not attend college, they are not receiving the alcohol education during orientation and wellness events that many American colleges and universities offer. We must do more to educate young Americans about the dangers of underage drinking and the real impact it can have on their professional and personal wellness,” said Susan Molinari, Chairman, The Century Council.

The Century Council’s programs provide a basis for alcohol education for students and their parents and caregivers starting in middle school through college. The Century Council’s programs include:

— Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix, a program in partnership with Nickelodeon, encourages parents to have an ongoing dialogue about the dangers of alcohol with their kids and provides effective resources to start the conversation. For more information, visit www.asklistenlearn.com.

— Girl Talk; Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking educates mothers and daughters about the dangers of underage drinking and the specific risks facing teenage girls. For more information, visit www.grltlk.org or www.girlsanddrinking.org.

— Brandon Tells His Story features Brandon Silveria sharing his compelling, lifesaving message with teens about the dangers of drunk driving and encourages responsible decision-making through a lecture- and video-based program. For more information, visit www.maketherightchoice.info.

— Alcohol 101 Plus encourages college students to make safe and responsible decisions about alcohol on college campuses. For more information, visit www.alcohol101plus.org.

— Parents, You’re Not Done Yet is a program that encourages parents of incoming college freshmen to continue to discuss underage drinking after they leave for school. To download a brochure, visit www.centurycouncil.org.

About The Century Council

The Century Council is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by distillers including Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Sidney Frank Importing Co. Inc. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and chaired by Susan Molinari, The Century Council is a leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol. The Century Council develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns and promotes action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Century Council’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at www.centurycouncil.org.

About the Women’s Sports Foundation

The Women’s Sports Foundation–the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports–advocates for equality, educates the public, conducts research and offers grants to promote sports and physical activity for girls and women. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, the Women’s Sports Foundation builds on her legacy as a champion athlete, advocate of social justice and agent of change.

About the survey

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Century Council and the Women’s Sports Foundation between June 4th and July 7th, 2008. 2,167 qualified respondents completed the interview, including 1,134 students enrolled in 2-year or 4-year colleges or graduate school and 1,033 non-students. Qualified respondents were U.S. residents 18-24 years old who were not in high school in the 2007-2008 academic year. Data were weighted to reflect national population targets (census) along key demographic variables (age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, household income and region) and are representative of the US population of 18-24 year olds who were not in high school in the 2007-2008 academic year. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.




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