Evidence continues to mount that binge drinking is becoming increasingly problematic among women. Data published online March 24 in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research indicate that rates of overall drinking and binge drinking are rising faster among older women than among older men.
The data, derived from results of National Health Interview Surveys in the 1997-2014 period, showed a 3.7% annual increase in binge drinking among women ages 60 and older, while binge drinking rates in older men held steady. Binge drinking in these surveys is defined as consuming four or more drinks within two hours.
Trends in recent years have indicated that increasing alcohol use among women is posing a concern for all age groups. “The gender gap has been narrowing over the last 20 years,” said Shelly Greenfield, MD, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Kristine M. Trustey Endowed Chair in Psychiatry at McLean Hospital.
For example, the gender gap in drinking also appears to be closing in the youngest age groups, with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reporting that around one-fifth of 17-year-old girls are drinking regularly.
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