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Binge Drinking Among Women In The UK On The Rise

May 7, 2009

Almost one in six women in the UK are drinking too much, while young men and children are consuming less than in the past, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

In a study commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, researchers from Oxford Brookes University found that the rate of binge-drinking among British women nearly doubled from 1998 to 2006. They noted that 15 percent of women reported binge drinking each week.

Men reported a stable 23 percent rate, which is relatively unchanged based on the findings of previous studies.

The proportion of 16- to 24-year-old men binge-drinking fell by 9 percent since 2000, researchers said.

“In the UK, women are less likely than men to drink, and women who do drink consume less than men. However the gender gap has generally narrowed over the last 15 to 20 years,” according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Researchers suggested that this increase could be linked to advertising and women’s increased financial security and independence.

Researchers used a variety of data sources including the Office for National Statistics and other government reports to form their conclusion.

On average, alcohol consumption has risen among men and women since the mid 1990s, they said. The study suggests that men now drink between 18 and 19 units of alcohol, compared to 15 to 16 in the 1990s. Women now consume about nine to 10 units, compared to six or seven.

The largest group of drinkers was found to be men between the ages of 45 and 64, consuming more than 20 units each week. A previous study had found that 16 to 24-year-old men were the biggest drinkers.

But in binge drinking figures, researchers found that largest growth rate among women of all age groups.

The study also noted that people in Northern Ireland are drinking at a much higher rate than those in Great Britain since the start of the peace process.

Researchers attributed the rise in Northern Ireland to a possible better standard of living, the introduction of new licensing laws and the growth of the leisure industry since the start of the peace process.

According to Reuters, alcohol-related injuries and illnesses result in state health system costs of about 2.7 billion pounds each year.

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