Shifting Age of Peak Binge Drinking Prevalence
Binge drinking, often defined as consuming 5 or more drinks per occasion, is prevalent among young adults and is associated with many risks. A new study examined a cohort of young adults aged 18-30 and their drinking behaviors to observe any changes in peak age of binge drinking as well as any associations between binge drinking and gender.
In this study, data from Monitoring the Future, a longitudinal study of adolescents and young adults, was used to follow multiple cohorts of high school seniors through age 30. Data on drinking behaviors was collected 7 times throughout those years.
The results showed that for women, the peak age of binge drinking was age 20 in 1976-1985 and increased to 22 in 1996-2004. For men, the peak age shifted from 21 in 1976-1985 to 23 in 1996 to 2004. In women, the more recent cohort reported higher binge drinking prevalence from ages 21 to 30. These results suggest that not only is the age of peak binge drinking increasing, but the prevalence of binge drinking is increasing as well. This shows that risk associated with binge drinking are potentially being extended throughout more of young adulthood, especially in women. This study also suggests that alcohol prevention efforts are needed throughout young adulthood.
Take Away: In men and women, the peak age of binge drinking has increased when comparing cohorts from 1976-1985 and 1996-2004. Also, in women, the prevalence of binge drinking has increased in this time. This implies that alcohol prevention efforts are needed throughout all of young adulthood.
Patrick, M.E., Terry-McElrath, Y.M., Lanza, S.T., Jager, J., Schulenberg, J., et al. (2019). Shifting Age of Peak Binge Drinking Prevalence: Historical Changes in Norative Trajectories Among Young Adults Aged 18-30. Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research. doi.org/10.1111/acer.13933
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