Friday, February 1, 2013

Blog 1 - Women Binge Drinking

For this week's blog assignment, we read an article called Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Among Women and High School Girls. The article stated that alcohol consumption, and more specifically, binge drinking, accounted for almost 23,000 deaths in the United States. It also highlighted the fact that drinking has lead to many other health related issues. The article defined what binge drinking is, who binge drinks, and steps that can be taken to prevent binge drinking. It summarized an experiment on binge drinking among women, recording the prevalence, frequency and intensity of drinking, and recorded its results. The experiment used two main methods to record data: BRFSS and YRBS. Although these methods acquired data for the experiment, there were some obvious flaws. In the end, the experiment concluded that binge drinking was very common, and that the women, in particular, who did binge drink often did it frequently and intensely. Also, the data recorded from high school girls was very similar to that of older women, aged 18-24 years old.

Because this article is about binge drinking and the different health issues that are produced from it, it is definitely an important public health issue. As the article states, binge drinking can not only lead to death in serious cases, but it can also lead to other health issues like liver disease, heart disease, stroke, cancer and more. These health issues associated with binge drinking are very serious in our world today because they can lead to various hospital visits at which doctors will spend countless medical supplies trying to save the person's life. In addition, one can look ahead and see that binge drinking can lead to unplanned pregnancies and injuries or even death that are associated with drunk driving. Therefore, binge drinking in general is an important public health issue that must be addressed.

In general, I am not surprised by the results. Both methods of collecting data concluded that current alcohol consumption was around 50% in high school girls, which, unfortunately, does not surprise me. The article also discussed the different results between women of different incomes, which I thought was interesting, but not surprising. People with higher income tend to binge drink more than people with lower income. It was very interesting to see the difference in prevalence of alcohol among the different races in high school girls, given that it was about a 10-20% difference. The two methods used to collect data, BRFSS and YRBS, definitely have accuracy issues because they are self-report data. Not all people in the age group used for the experiment attend school, which is where the experiment was conducted. In addition, as the article states, alcohol consumption and binge drinking results are often "underreported in surveys because of bias". It is very true that the methods used in this experiment could be flawed because of various factors such as missing kids on the day the surveys were conducted, kids not completing the surveys with total honest, and so on. It can be said that these flaws, along with others, in the methods used to collect data are enough to call for another method to compare and contrast results.

I think that the article does a good job in listing various efforts one could do to try to prevent the prevalence of binge drinking among women. The ones that stuck with me were to "maintain limits on the days and hours when alcohol is sold", increase the price of alcohol, which could cause the girls to not want to buy it, and "maintain and enforce age 21 years as the minimum age for legal drinking". The last one, however, could be enforced more in some situations in order to thoroughly prevent minors from obtaining alcohol. Various other methods can be implemented in our world in order to prevent further binge drinking among women and the other health issues that can result from binge drinking.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I thought you particularly explained why this was a public health issue very well. I wish you had explained your reasoning why people with higher incomes tend binge drink more and added more statistics from the original report. With a few more statistics, I think your summary would be a little bit stronger. I thought you represented the difference in races very well, and overall did a great job of making the harder-to-understand report, very accessible.

  2. Thank you very much for your post. As you pointed out the introduction to the paper articulates the major health impacts of binge drinking on women.

    Here are a couple of things to think about: How might the different methods used to conduct the surveys (telephone vs. a school survey) and the different definitions of binge drinking (4+ drinks vs 5+ drinks) affect your ability to make comparisons between high school girls and older women? In addition, do you think the lack of information regarding women in institutional settings (college & military) biases the data for older women?

    Wanted to make one small correction regarding statistical interpretation. The article states that the prevalence of alcohol consumption among teenaged girls was 37.9% rather than ~50%. The 54.6% statistic is measuring the number of girls who report 1 or more episodes of binge drinking among the girls who report having consumed at least 1 alcoholic beverage in 30 days prior to the survey.

    In a perfect world where it was essential for you to record all the binge drinking behavior (no limitations) how would you design a study to detect all binge drinking behavior among high school students? Is such a study even possible? What would be some reasonable compromises you could make to design a study that is as close as possible to the perfect investigation without compromising individual rights or costing an exorbitant amount of money?

    Here is a link to some interesting evidence based recommendations for limiting alcohol consumption:

    I look forward to your next post.