Young women are now consuming as much alcohol as young males, catching up to them and their drinking habits, according to a new study.
Women between 18 and 27 years old are about to reach parity with men of the same group in three distinctions of drinking: the likelihood of consuming alcohol, the risk of problem drinking, and treatment for abuse.
This is a sharp contrast from the mid-20th century, where men drank more than twice the amount, on average, as their female counterparts. Women have closed the gap to virtually nothing now, seeing a steady rise in drinking at about 6% per decade. In some areas of drinking, women have overtaken men entirely.
In the report, published in the journal BMJ Open, the researchers analyzed 68 studies from Europe and North America. The data included the drinking patterns of roughly four million people from 1948 to 2014.
“Alcohol use and alcohol disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon,” said the researchers, who were led by Tim Slade from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
But, the new information, “suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms.”
The researchers also confirmed through their findings that the alcohol gap didn’t tighten because of men drinking less, but women catching up.
Having said that, some figures didn’t correlate to the alcohol sex gap, particularly due to geography. For example, with overall alcohol consumption lower in Asia in comparison to Western countries, a gap still remains between men and women in terms of drinking frequency.
The report also noted that worldwide harmful consumption of alcohol jumped from 8th into the top-five (5th) leading causes of death/disability, from the years 1990-2010.