Dangerous Increase in Youth Binge Drinking Around the World, Study Reveals

A new study reveals that despite the overall decrease in alcohol consumption in developed, wealthy countries, the rates of binge drinking among the young have vastly increased.

According to the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average annual alcohol consumption of its member countries has declined 3.5 percent over the past two decades to 2.4 gallons of pure alcohol consumption per capita. However, these numbers do not reflect the dangerous increase in youth binge drinking because alcohol consumption is measured by both the rate that alcohol is consumed as well as the amount.

Regular binge drinking is usually defined as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion during the week. For adults residing in OECD countries, average yearly consumption has almost equated to 10 liters of pure alcohol per capita, which is equivalent to 100 bottles of wine.

In a CBS News report, the OECD described the rise in binge drinking among younger individuals as a “major public health and social concern.” Currently, dangerous consumption of alcohol now accounts for a higher proportion of deaths worldwide than tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS, and violence combined. The OECD findings also revealed a link between excessive alcohol consumption and reduced rates of overall economic production in developed countries.

The OECD found that during the 2000s, the proportion of girls age 15 or younger who had been drunk grew from 26 to 41 percent. Boys in the same age group who had been drunk rose from 30 to 43 percent.

“The most surprising aspect of the study was how many people drink excessively,” stated CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips on CBS This Morning. “Excessive drinking is two things. It includes binge drinking, which is four or five [drinks at a sitting] for men. And it also includes heavy daily drinking: eight or more drinks [per week] for women or 15 for men. What the study pointed out though is that 90 percent of people who drink this way are not considered alcoholics.”

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