A study evaluating Canadian school children determined that approximately four percent of children in the 12-14 age range already participated in binge drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more drinks. The population sample studies consisted of 6,172 Canadians aged 12 to 14, using data drawn from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.
The study conducted by the University of Toronto was published in the journal Public Health and raises serious social public health issues for that age group in particular as the percentage of binge drinking doubles in youth with three or more chronic health conditions and long term alcohol use is a risk factor to alcohol-related injuries, accidental death, unsafe sexual behavior, and long-term substance abuse problems.
“We are particularly concerned that the young adolescents most likely to binge drink are those who have substantial physical health challenges” says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. “Clearly, pediatricians and other health professionals need to be particularly attentive to screening for binge drinking in these vulnerable youth.”
“We also found that youth with mood disorders had three times the odds of binge drinking, says co-author Matthew Sheridan, a manager at a children’s mental health centre. “This should signal that mental health is an important factor to consider in targeting outreach for binge drinking prevention and cessation programs.”
The researchers recommend several intervention strategies including life skills training for middle schoolers, comprehensive community-based interventions addressing children, schools, and the larger community, education of parents about the risk of supplying alcohol to teenagers, and greater enforcement of laws prosecuting those who sell liquor to minors.
Esme Fuller-Thomson, Tamara Grundland, Matthew P. Sheridan, Cathy Sorichetti. Binge Drinking among 12-to-14-Year-Old Canadians: Findings from a Population-Based Study. ISRN Public Health, 2014; 2014: 1 DOI: 10.1155/2014/646250