BINGE DRINKING: Still Prevalent On College Campuses
A study on alcohol use at America's colleges and universities depicts a shrinking middle ground: the number of students who abstain completely is on the rise and the number of binge drinkers is down, but those who do binge are doing so more heavily and frequently. The Harvard School of Public Health study surveyed 14,521 student at 116 colleges and universities in an attempt to ascertain any changes that had taken place since a landmark 1993 study, the Boston Globe reports. What the researchers found, although a mixed bag, was assuredly discomforting. "It's barely changed," said lead researcher Dr. Henry Wechsler. "Frankly, I'm disappointed" (Rodriguez, 9/11). The New York Times reports that the survey included the following findings:
- Nineteen percent of students abstain from alcohol, up from 15.6% in 1993.
- More than 42% binge drink (defined as five drinks in a sitting for men, four for women), slightly down from 44.1% in 1993.
- The number of frequent binge drinkers (at least three times in the last two weeks) rose significantly from 19.5% to 20.7%.
- Eighty percent of fraternity and sorority members were binge drinkers.
- Binge drinking among Asian Americans rose, although they still drink far less than the average student (Goldberg, 9/11).
Despite "enormous national attention on college drinking as a major public health problem," highlighted by several highly visible alcohol-related deaths, researchers "expressed dismay that the number of bingers had not declined." Schools have been under "intense ... pressure to do something about excessive drinking" (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/11). In a release from the Harvard School of Public Health, the study authors cautioned, "If colleges are to have an impact on their alcohol problems, they must dramatically change this way of life" (Harvard School of Public Health release, 9/10). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.