Lower drinking age drives binging later: Study

Updated: Feb 07, 2013, 13:06 PM IST

Washington: People legally permitted to drink before 21 years are more likely to turn to binge drinking later in life, according to a study.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tracked the long-term drinking behaviour of more than 39,000 people who began consuming alcohol in the 1970s when some US states had legal drinking ages as low as 18.

"It wasn`t just that lower minimum drinking ages had a negative impact on people when they were young," says study co-author Andrew D. Plunk, post-doctoral research fellow in psychiatry, the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research reports.

"Even decades later, the ability to legally purchase alcohol before age 21 was associated with more frequent binge drinking," adds Plunk, according to a Washington statement.

The effect was most pronounced among men who did not attend college. And the researchers say the findings should be a warning to those who advocate lowering the minimum drinking age.

"Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem," Plunk says. "But it`s also important not to completely forget about young people who aren`t on college campuses. In our study, they had the greatest risk of suffering the long-term consequences linked to lower drinking ages."