A new study shows that the way in which drinks are consumed is more important than the number of drinks that are consumed on a weekly basis.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), bring drinking is defined as consuming over 5 or 4 drinks within a two-hour span, increasing their blood alcohol levels past 0.08%.
But if that sounds like an average Friday night to you, listen up. A new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Texas and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, reveals that moderate drinkers who participate in binge drinking are more likely to develop alcohol problems when compared to drinkers that consume the same amount of alcohol but don’t binge it.
Researchers analyzed a national sample of U.S. adults, finding that moderate drinkers that participated in binge drinking were five times more likely to experience multiple alcohol problems within a decade. The data was gathered via surveys from over a thousand people aged 30 and older, and taken on two separate occasions, with there being a 9-year gap in between.
Researchers were surprised to find that most cases of binge drinking occurred in people who were average or moderate drinkers, thus escaping public health scrutiny.
“An individual whose total consumption is seven drinks on Saturday night presents a greater risk profile than someone whose total consumption is a daily drink with dinner, even though their average drinking level is the same,” explained Dr. Charles Holahan, lead author of the study.
The study highlights the problem with binge drinking and shows that the number of drinks in a week overall isn’t as impactful as the manner in which the drink is consumed. A lot of people may think that because they consume less than a certain amount of drinks a week, they’re safe from the negative impact of alcohol, without accounting for how they consume them.
NIH stats demonstrate that while teens and young adults are decreasing their binge drinking patterns, older adults and women’s numbers are increasing. Ten-percent of adults over the age of 65 have reported binge drinking over the past month. In the case of women, the situation is more concerning, with one in four having engaged in binge drinking over the past month, resulting in an average of three binge episodes a month.