THE BARBADOS ADVOCATE
Study: Binge drinking on the rise in Barbados
Binge drinking is on the rise in Barbados.
This was revealed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Joy St. John, as she reported on the core findings of the Barbados Health of the Nation Survey, during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade ‘Workplace Wellness Programme Workshop’, held at the Ministry’s Culloden Road, St. Michael Headquarters, yesterday.
“It isn’t just linked to Crop Over,” Dr St. John observed, while noting that binge drinking is low in women but practised by around a quarter of all men.
“It is now creeping in to the way that young people have a rite of passage – men and women. Heavy episodic (binge) drinking is the consumption of at least four to five alcohol drinks on one occasion.”
The Health of the Nation Study was undertaken by the Chronic Disease Research Centre and Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill, aimed to recruit a representative sample of adults (25 years and over).
Data was collected from 2011 to 2013, from 1234 participants – 764 women and 470 men.
From the sample, St. John stated that 15 per cent of adults over 25 self-reported binge drinking in that past 30 days.
“We are a rum and beer producing nation. We win awards for our alcohol and in public health circles; the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises that there are harmful limits. What we are encouraging is that you do not take a harmful, excessive amount, and we are encouraging you not to drink and drive,” stressed the Chief Medical Officer.
“The horror stories that my staff tell me about what happens at mass crowd events – they are mainly incidence related to drunkenness, so you have people coming in who don’t know who they are, what they are doing and they are sick. Some of that then leads into the violence that has been creeping into our events.”
Dr St. John also acknowledged that although tobacco smoking rates are low in Barbados, excess alcohol intake in men, levels of physical inactivity, poor intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, overweight and obesity are high, and together are affecting the vast majority of the adult population.
“These in turn feed into high rates of diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels and contribute to the high risk of cardiovascular disease.”
She said according to the conclusion and policy implications of the Study, action needs to involve all of government, civil society and the private sector to reduce risk throughout the population.
In addition, there is need to improve the identification of people with diabetes and hypertension and the delivery of their care for the control of blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. (TL)