Female university students get drunk — on purpose — quicker than their male counterparts, according to a new Spanish study.
Researchers at the University of Vigo in Spain report that 56 percent of female students are considered binge drinkers, as opposed to 41 percent of males.
The researchers also found that female university students live a more sedentary lifestyle than their male counterparts.
Researchers from the HealthyFit group at the university studied students’ lifestyles, including alcohol and illegal drug consumption habits, sports and food.
Their analysis led to the conclusion that most students indulge in unhealthy behaviors. One of the main findings was the high consumption of alcohol.
“The amount drunk per unit of time is higher among women. In other words, even though male students drink more often, females do so more intensively in shorter periods of time, which is known as binge drinking,” said José Cancela Carral, Ph.D., co-author of the study published by the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The researchers said they also were surprised by the high consumption of illegal drugs among university students — 45 percent of men and 31 percent of women — which “could lead to significant future health problems, mainly related to the nervous system.”
For the study, researchers randomly selected 985 students from different degree courses and in different years at the University of Vigo.
Of the females interviewed, 51 percent lead a sedentary lifestyle, compared to 42 percent of men, they report, noting that 39 percent of males maintained an appropriate level of physical activity, compared to just 21 percent of women.
Attitudes to food different from the norm were more evident among women (17 percent), although also present among men (9 percent), according to the researchers.
“However, the statistical analysis showed that this parameter depended on the degree the student was studying for,” said Cancela.
He noted that such attitudes were much more common among those studying degrees related to education (19.2 percent) than among those studying courses related to health (6.3 percent).
Spanish universities set up a Healthy University Network in 2008, a project for healthy living for universities from all over Spain. The researchers noted that at many universities, this network was nothing more than “a simple first step to get on the list and nothing else.” The researchers suggest that universities implement study plans related to food, physical exercise and healthy habits.
“In the light of the results, training and information courses are required in these areas, together with healthy leisure — not just sports facilities — to set up university guidance services for a healthy student lifestyle,” concludes Cancela.