Mention binge drinking and one’s thoughts usually turn to college students partying, but research shows that many adults also regularly drink enough alcohol in one sitting to be considered binging.
Various sources have different definitions for binge drinking. England’s National Health Service defines it as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk”.
Closer to home, the World Health Organization ranks South Africa 59th highest of 195 countries for heavy episodic drinking among those who drink – this means at least 60 grams of more of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.
According to evidence on binge drinking in National Income Dynamics Study (2014 – 2015) published by The South African Medical Journal, one in three South Africans reported drinking alcohol, while one in seven reported binge drinking on an average day on which alcohol was consumed. The study defined binge drinking as an individual who reported consumption of more than five standard drinks on an average drinking day.
Of drinkers, 43 % reported binge drinking (48.2% males, 32.4% females). The prevalence of self-reported binge drinking was highest among males and females aged 25 – 34 years. Dangerous alcohol consumption varies from occasional hazardous drinking to daily heavy drinking.
HOW TO CALCULATE UNITS OF ALCOHOL
In South Africa, the legal driving limit is a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml.
What does this mean to consumers? How is one unit of alcohol calculated?
The formula is: multiply the volume of the drink (in millimetres/mm) by its percentage alcohol by volume (ABV) and divide by 1000, to determine the number of units of alcohol in the drink.
350ml x 5% ABV divided by 1000 = 1.75 units of alcohol
So to reiterate the Castle Lager example above, at 1.75 units of alcohol, consumers should drink one 350ml bottle every two hours to remain within the legal driving limit.
As an example, a 350ml bottle of Castle Lager, which has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 5% has 1.75 units of alcohol and therefore should be consumed over approximately two-hours.
Remember, if you are going to drink, take a cab to and from your venue.