Women are catching up with men in terms of their alcohol consumption and the associated harms, according to research published in BMJ Open.
Led by the University of New South Wales, Australia, the study looked at the consumption habits of four million people worldwide during the period between 1891 and 2001. The analysis showed that historically men were far more likely to drink alcohol, and drink it in damaging quantities.
For people born between 1891 to 1910, men were twice as likely as women to drink alcohol and at least three times more likely to develop health problems from drinking. However, these figures have almost reached parity among those born between 1991 and 2000. Men are now only 1.1 times as likely as women to drink alcohol at all and 1.3 times as likely to develop health problems from drinking.
So what are the reasons behind this new trend and how can excessive drinking be curbed? Mark Petticrew, Professor of Public Health Evaluation at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:
“Men’s and women’s roles have been changing over the decades. This is likely to account for some of these trends – but not all. The increasing availability of alcohol also plays an important part, as does the way that alcohol marketing is often targeted specifically at women – and particularly young women.
“Health professionals need to help the public – both men and women – to understand the health risks of alcohol consumption, and how to reduce those risks. The new UK alcohol guidelines recommend that limiting alcohol intake to no more than 14 units a week is the best way to keep the health risks from alcohol at a low level
Image: Beer glasses. Credit: Flickr / Gina Pina
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine