FROM THE GRIO — Overall alcohol use has declined among teenagers during the last two decades, but not dangerously high levels of binge drinking.
Downing up to 15 alcoholic drinks in a row remains popular among high school seniors, according to a new study published today in JAMA Pediatrics, part of the Journal of the American Medical Association Network.
Twenty percent of seniors said they had consumed five or more drinks in a row at least once during the previous two weeks. However, 10 percent had 10 or more drinks, and 6 percent had at least 15 drinks in one sitting.
These drinks included a 12-ounce container of beer, a four-ounce glass of wine, a mixed drink, a wine cooler or a shot of liquor.
“To our knowledge, this is the first national study to date to examine extreme binge drinking among youth,” said Megan E. Patrick, Ph.D., principal investigator and co-author of “Extreme Binge Drinking Among 12th Grade Students in the United States: Prevalence and Predictors.”
The study was based on 16,332 students from 2005 to 2011. During that time, the lowest level of binge drinking, defined as five drinks, dropped from 22 percent to 18 percent.
However, Patrick said, “the more increased level has not been changing.”
The heaviest binge drinkers across the board tended to be young men, particularly white students. Rates of students consuming 15-plus drinks were also higher in the South and in rural areas. Children of college-educated parents tended to binge more on five or so drinks and less at the higher end.
“The rates are much lower for black youth than other youth,” Patrick added. Eleven percent of study respondents were African Americans.