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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 13:11 GMT
More young women binge drinking
Girl drinking
Many women often drink over daily limits
More young women are ignoring recommended drinking limits compared to five years ago, statistics have shown.

Figures from the Health Survey for England showed that 23% of women aged between 16 and 24 drank over 21 units a week. The advised limit is 14.

That figure is 14% higher than nine years ago.

Experts have warned that young women's binge drinking habits have led to an increase in the numbers suffering from severe liver damage.

Young people in England are drinking more and more alcohol
Bob Erens, Researcher
The survey of 12,000 people, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, also showed that the number of women drinking double the recommended daily level has also increased.

In 1998 nearly two out of five young women said that drank at least six units on their heaviest drinking day in the last week. The recommended daily limit is three units.

But by 2002 this level had increased to just over half.

The number of men drinking more than the recommended 21 units a week has also risen by around a third, from 33% in 1997 to 42% in 2002.

Binge drinking can have serious health effects, such as severe liver damage and an increased risk of stroke.

Smoking habits

The health survey also found the nation is getting fatter.

1993 - 13.2% men obese
2002 - 22.1%
1993 - 16.4% women obese
2002 - 22.8%
1993 - 39% men had never smoked
2002 - 44%
1993 - 52% women had never smoked
2002 - 54%
1993 - men 16 to 24 drinking over 28 units a week - 22%
2002 - 34%
1993 - women drinking over 21 units a week - 9%
2002 - 23%
In 1993, 37.8% of men and 44.3% of women had a healthy Body Mass Index rating (which is based on comparing a person's height and weight).

In 2002, the numbers had fallen to 29.6% of men and 37.4% of women.

The proportion of men classed as obese rose from 13.2% of men in 1993 to 22.1% in 2002 and from 16.4% of women in 1993 to 22.8% in 2002.

The statistics showed men appear to be heeding the health warnings on smoking - but women are continuing to smoke as heavily.

The proportion of men who have never smoked increased from 39% in 1993 to 44% in 2002. Among women, the figure rose by just 2% to 54%.

Bob Erens, who carried out the research, said: "Young people in England are drinking more and more alcohol.

"There's less difference between drinking habits of young men and young women than there used to be and we now have one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in Europe.

Lesley King-Lewis, chief executive of Action on Addiction, said: "This statistics demonstrate the increasing problem of young women binge drinking. Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol in many ways.

"Binge drinking also creates safety issues for young women travelling home alone after a night out, and can increase the likelihood of unsafe sex.

"Greater awareness is needed among young women of the dangers of binge drinking."

Death figures

In a separate analysis, the Office for National Statistics, published statistics on cause of deaths which showed in 2002 the main cause of death - 39% - in 2002 was circulatory diseases, including coronary heart disease and strokes.

Twenty six per cent died of cancers and 13% of respiratory diseases according to the figures for deaths in England and Wales.

In total, there were 533,527 deaths in England and Wales in 2002, a rise of 0.6% from the previous year.

British women top drinks league
17 Oct 03  |  Health
'Gap' in drinking awareness
23 Nov 03  |  Health

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