*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
A new study discovers high school boys who participate in sports are more likely to binge drink, often at a dangerous level.
University of Michigan researchers discovered that among boys who play at least three sports, nearly 22.6 percent say they have binge drunk (at least five drinks in a sitting) and 8.7 percent say they have consumed at least 10 drinks in one sitting — extreme binge drinking.
Although the numbers decline for one-sport athletes, the relationship is still strong as 20.4 percent binge drink and 8.5 percent participate in extreme binge drinking. For male non-athletes, 18.3 percent binge and 7.6 percent extreme binge.
No differences in extreme binge drinking were found among girls who play sports versus girls who do not — although female athletes are more likely to binge drink than non-athletic girls.
Previous studies show that sports have a positive impact on academic achievement and health, and lower the risk of teens engaging in criminal behavior and getting school suspensions.
But stress and peer pressure in risky drinking behaviors causes some students to imbibe heavily, possibly risking memory loss, becoming a victim in fatal traffic accidents and dying from alcohol poisoning, said sociologist Dr. Philip Veliz, the study’s lead author.
Veliz and colleagues used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey that asked high school students about the largest number of alcoholic drinks they had in a row during the last 30 days. Additional questions assessed the number of sports teams played (either school or community group) and cigarette/marijuana use.
Researchers analyzed responses from 11,154 high school students — 5,718 girls and 5,436 boys. Overall, 14 percent of girls and 19 percent of boys indicated they binge drank. Moreover, about 4 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys indicated they engaged in extreme binge drinking during the past 30 days.
Veliz said boys may be at a greater risk to engage in binge drinking due to the stress associated in defining their self-worth and masculinity, and coping with the demands of intense athletic competition.
The study appears in The American Journal on Addictions.