Closing the Gender Gap: Alcohol Consumption

By: Malarie Warren

drink-654938_640Women have made many strides in recent decades to close the gender gap and striving for true equality.A new study published in October 2016 indicated women are now successfully closing the gender gap in relation to health problems associated with drinking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend up to one drink per day for women of legal drinking age and up to two drinks per day for men of legal drinking age1. Tim Slade, an epidemiologist from the University of New South Wales in Australia led a study that analyzed data from 68 international studies between 1989 and 2014 tracking the alcohol consumption of both men and women2. People were grouped according to their alcohol consumption: any alcohol use, excessive alcohol use, and health and social problems related to drinking. His team observed that women who were born between 1891 and 1910 were around fifty percent less likely to drink alcohol than their male counterparts, whereas this percentage was equalized for those born between 1991 and 2000. The instances of excessive alcohol use fell for men from three times more than women to 1.2 times more than women2. These numbers are significant in that women are now seeing many of the same health and social impacts alcohol consumption and abuse can have. Several researchers commented on the Australian study saying that social norms in different regions may play into women’s drinking behaviors as well as women’s representation within the data. Recommendations for women’s alcohol consumption is lower because their bodies are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol metabolism. This leads to a greater risk of liver disease, cancer, and the occurrence of fetal alcohol syndrome if a woman drinks while pregnant2.


References:

  1. Chapter 1 key elements of healthy eating patterns. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/key-recommendations/. Accessed November 14, 2016.
  2. Thompson D. Women reaching equality in dubious habit: Drinking. October 25, 2016. https://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/misc-women-s-problem-news-707/women-nearly-on-par-with-men-when-it-come s-to-drinking-716141.html. Accessed November 14, 2016.
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