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Wednesday 31 May 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Female students are now drinking more than male students
UCC’s student union backs the push for a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sports.

A NEW STUDY from University College Cork (UCC) looks at hazardous drinking behaviour – and says something needs to be done urgently to curb the risks to students’ health.

The study will be published in the BMJ Open medical journal today. It calls for further public policy measures “as a matter of urgency” to counter the short- and long-term risks of hazardous drinking at third level.

The study

The cross-sectional UCC-based study was led by UCC researcher and PhD candidate Martin Davoren, with input from colleagues Dr Frances Shiely and Professor Ivan Perry of UCC’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and Dr Michael Byrne, head of the university’s Student Health Department.

They used a rigorous sampling strategy, and found a high prevalence of hazardous alcohol consumption among the 2,275 undergraduates who responded compared to the general population.

The researchers said that particularly noteworthy is the narrowing of the gender gap, meaning patterns of hazardous alcohol consumption are now similar in men and women.

Key findings include:

  • 66.4% of students responding reported hazardous alcohol consumption – 65.2% for men and 67.3% for women.
  • Approximately 17% of men and 5% of women were consuming more than six units of alcohol at least four times per week, and in some cases on a daily basis.
  • The pattern and frequency of adverse consequences of alcohol consumption was broadly similar in men and women
  • Men were more likely to report getting into a fight or to have a ‘one-night stand’ than women.

Davoren noted:

“A decade ago the College Lifestyle and Attitudinal National Survey noted males were drinking more than their female counterparts. What we are now seeing is women drinking as much as men. This finding is yet another signpost that our relationship with alcohol as a nation is unwholesome and detrimental to health.”

He said that these findings shouldn’t be seen as merely a ‘young person’, ‘student’ or ‘UCC’ issue.

Currently the Irish state is at a decision point with regard to policies on the promotion and marketing of alcohol. This study highlights the need for effective public policy measures such as a minimum unit price for alcohol and a full ban on sports sponsorship.

Mark Stanton, UCC Students’ Union President said:

A national conversation needs to take place and students need to be at the heart of the discussion, not the topic of it.

Professor Ivan Perry of UCC’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health said that given these findings, “the case for a complete ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports events and the introduction of minimum unit pricing is now compelling on health and economic grounds”.

UCC has a comprehensive alcohol action plan which identifies five key strategy areas with 20 specific action points. It has also brought in some alcohol-free accommodation on campus.

Read: Amazingly, boozy students don’t really care about their health>

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