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Study: British ladettes match men in binge drinking as they top European poll of alcohol abusers
In a study of drinking in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Estonia and Slovenia, 4.5 per cent of those studied qualified as binge drinkers. The rate was highest in the Netherlands, where 8.4 per cent qualified as binge drinkers. But the UK was not far behind, with a score of 8.1 per cent, and British women, unlike their counterparts in other countries, were binge drinking on a par with the men, with 7.7 per cent fitting the criteria, compared with 8.9 per cent of men.
British women have topped a European league of ‘ladette’ drinking shame.
They are now as likely to binge on alcohol as men, according to EU research.
In every other country in the study men outdrank women – sometimes by a ratio of nine to one.
Experts blamed the shocking figures on financial independence and the rise of a generation whose idea of a good night out is drinking to oblivion.
They said many young women were trying to emulate the drunken antics of pop stars and models photographed falling out of pubs and clubs.
Irwin Nazareth, who led the research at University College London, said GPs urgently needed to start asking patients about their drinking habits.
Binge drinking takes a bigger toll on the heart and liver than spreading the same amount of alcohol over several days. Women are also more vulnerable because their bodies are less able to cope with binges.
Heavy drinking can also lead to violence, unplanned pregnancies, relationship breakdowns and work problems.
Professor Nazareth, who is also a GP, said: ‘It is quite fashionable for footballers to drink heavily, to trash places. The image young people get is that that is quite acceptable to do.
‘It is considered a bit edgy, risky and fashionable. These are the role models for the younger generation.’
Women are more vulnerable to drinking as their bodies are less able to cope with the binges
The findings come from a study of drinking in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Estonia and Slovenia. Those whose intake was deemed a cause for concern were excluded, leaving 6,500 ‘normal’ drinkers.
Overall, 4.5 per cent of these qualified as binge drinkers. That means they had downed six or more drinks at one sitting at least once a month – a drink being a pint of beer, a large glass of wine or a measure of spirits.
The rate was highest in the Netherlands, where 8.4 per cent qualified as binge drinkers. But the UK was not far behind, with a score of 8.1 per cent.
The researchers said British women were binge drinking on a par with the men, with 7.7 per cent fitting the criteria, compared with 8.9 per cent of men.
In Spain, however, binge drinking was nine times more common among the men than the women.
The Britons taking part were also more likely to progress to being classed as heavy drinkers over the coming months, the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism reports. Professor Nazareth said the figures were collected for a larger study carried out in 2003 and 2004 and binge drinking rates may be even higher now.