Binge Drinking Highest Among Underage Students

( [email protected] ) Jan 18, 2007 02:55 PM EST

The majority of the alcohol consumed by underage youth in the United States is in the form of binge drinks, new research found.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that college students commonly binge drink and the proportion of current drinkers that binge is highest in the 18- to 20-year-old groups.

Published in the January issue of the journal "Pediatrics," the study further showed that 45 percent of students reported alcohol consumption in the past 30 days; 64 percent of those students said they had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row.

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, the study noted.

The CDC highlighted that binge drinking is strongly associated with sexual activity, violence and other risky behaviors as well as many health problems including alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure and unintended pregnancy.

“Our study clearly shows that it’s not just that students drink alcohol, but how much they drink that most strongly affects whether they experience other health and social problems," said Jacqueline Miller, lead author of the report.

"It also underscores the importance of implementing effective strategies to prevent underage and binge drinking, such as enforcing the minimum legal drinking age and reducing alcohol marketing to youth, which can help us change social norms regarding the acceptability of underage and binge drinking," she added.

Earlier this month, major retailers Kohl's, Target, and Linens-n-Things removed drinking board games from their stores in response to a national letter-writing campaign led by drug prevention coalition groups.

Thousands of concerned citizens sent letters and e-mails to retailers for the removal of commercially-produced versions of drinking games already popular on many college campuses and among high school students.

Join Together, a community-based health project, announced that as of Jan. 12, the retail chains said they will no longer make products like "Drinko" and "Shots and Ladders" available both in their stores and on their websites.

"We commend Linens 'n Things, Target, and Kohl's for their responsiveness to the concerns and values of their customers," said Join Together spokesman Eric Helmuth in an announcement. "These companies have demonstrated good corporate citizenship by choosing not to make money from products whose sole purpose is to encourage unsafe levels of alcohol consumption for people at any age."

The CDC made listed evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms, including increasing alcoholic beverage costs and excise taxes; campus-based strategies to reduce high risk drinking among college students; and physician screening, counseling and/or referral for alcohol problems.