Media Releases

One in 25 middle school children binge drinking

May 8, 2014

Youth with chronic health conditions, mood disorders particularly vulnerable

TORONTO, ON – Four per­cent of Cana­di­ans aged 12 to 14 years old had con­sumed five or more drinks on at least one occa­sion in the pre­ced­ing year, accord­ing to a new study from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. The study was pub­lished this week in the jour­nal ISRN Pub­lic Health.

The find­ings also indi­cat­ed that the odds of binge drink­ing were twice as high among youth with three or more chron­ic con­di­tions.

“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.”

The inves­ti­ga­tors exam­ined a range of fac­tors asso­ci­at­ed with binge drink­ing in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mu­ni­ty-based sam­ple of 6,172 Cana­di­ans aged 12 to 14, using data drawn from the 2005 Cana­di­an Com­mu­ni­ty Health Sur­vey.

“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.”

 Binge drink­ing is a major pub­lic health issue because it is an impor­tant risk fac­tor for alco­hol-relat­ed injuries, acci­den­tal death, unsafe sex­u­al behav­iour, and long-term sub­stance abuse prob­lems. Co-authors Cathy Sorichet­ti and Tama­ra Grund­land empha­size that there are many promis­ing pre­ven­tion 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.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Esme Fuller-Thom­son
Pro­fes­sor & San­dra Rot­man Chair
Fac­ul­ties of Social Work, Med­i­cine & Nurs­ing
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
416 209‑3231

Michael Kennedy
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer