Page last updated: Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Binge drinkers report sub-optimal health status more often than non-binge drinkers

A new study has looked at the frequency of binge drinking in relation to drinkers’ own perceptions of their overall health status. Findings indicate that binge drinkers have a 13% - 23% greater likelihood of reporting lower health status.
Researchers examined a total of 200,587 adult, current drinkers (89,919 men, 110,668 women) who participated in the 2008 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS asked participants to rate their health by answering the question: “Would you say that, in general, your health is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?” Study authors then estimated the prevalence of binge drinking and heavy drinking (defined as an average of 14 drinks (of 14g) per week for men, and seven or more drinks (of 14g) per week for women), as well as the frequency of binge drinking (defined as the number of binge episodes reported by drinkers during a 30-day period). Self reported health was then divided into the categories of optimal (excellent, very good, or good) and sub-optimal (fair or poor).
“The results indicate that binge drinking continues to be a serious public health concern across the lifespan,” said James Tsai, an epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and corresponding author for the study.
“These results are significant because persons who report lower self-rated health are at greater risk of hospitalisation and death than persons who report higher self-reported health,” said Robert D. Brewer, alcohol programme leader at the CDC. “Consequently, this study adds to the growing body of scientific evidence showing that binge drinking is associated with a with many serious public health outcomes, including hospitalisations and deaths.”

Results will be published in the August 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
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