Page last updated: May 11, 2013

Spanish female university students get drunk more rapidly than their male counterparts

Female university students get drunk - on purpose - quicker than their male counterparts, and live a more sedentary life, according to a study by the University of Vigo in Spain. Results show that 56.1% of female students are considered binge drinkers, as opposed to 41.3% of males.

Of 3,646 eligible subjects doing university courses related to health (Group A), education (Group B) and other professions (Group C), 985 (27.0%) participated in the study. Information was gathered about their physical activity level, disturbed eating attitudes, consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illegal substances. Prevalence and Odds Ratios (OR) were calculated according to sex and kind of academic discipline.

The obtained data confirmed that only 27.4% of the students were considered to be sufficiently active, while 14.9% of them suffered from disturbed eating attitudes (DEA). Women were particularly less active (OR 0.46 (0.32–0.66); p < 0.0001), and more sedentary than men (OR 1.40 (1.00–1.97); p = 0.03). A third of the analysed sample admitted that they had used illegal substances, while a lower consumption prevalence was found in women (OR 0.53 (0.40–0.71); p < 0.0001).

Binge drinking was more frequent in female than in male students (OR 1.79 (1.29–2.47); p = 0.0004).


“The amount drunk per unit of time is higher among women. In other words, even though male students drink more often, females do so more intensively in shorter periods of time, which is known as binge drinking”, explained to SINC José M Cancela Carral, co-author of the study published by the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Universities in Spain set up a Healthy University Network in 2008, a project for healthy living for universities from all over Spain. The study authors are critical that at many universities this network was nothing more than “a simple first step to get on the list and nothing else”. They argue therefore that transversal content should be implemented in study plans related to food, physical exercise and healthy habits.

“In the light of the results, training and information courses are required in these areas, together with healthy leisure -- not just sports facilities -- to set up university guidance services for a healthy student lifestyle”, concludes Cancela.

Source: Lifestyle and Health among Spanish University Students: Differences by Gender and Academic Discipline. Verónica Varela-Mato, José M. Cancela , Carlos Ayan, Vicente Martín  and Antonio Molina. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2728-2741; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082728.

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