Alcohol consumption more among female than male students in Goa’s medical college: Study

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Panaji, Aug 2 (IANS) Women apparently consume alcohol more than men at Goa’s only medical college, a recent study claims, terming the general pattern of alcohol consumption among the institute’s students a “cause of concern” while advocating a counselling mechanism to deal with stress related to studies and negotiating peer pressure.

The study, authored by Yash Jairam Verenkar and Frederick Satiro Vaz, also states, that while male students at Asia’s third oldest medical college, the Goa Medical College and Hospital, preferred beer and whisky, women preferred wine and other light alcoholic drinks.

“Prevalence of alcohol consumption was found to be 39.4 per cent. Prevalence among females was higher (40.6 per cent) compared to males (38 per cent). Among the alcohol consumers, 82.3 per cent were light drinkers, while 17.7 per cent were identified as heavy drinkers,” states the study which was published in the July edition of the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health.

“Higher prevalence was seen among female students in our study compared to males, this being in contrast to other studies. However, it was found that most of the females (86.5 per cent) were light drinkers,” it also says.

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Twenty per cent of the alcohol consuming students at the Medical College, located near Panaji, showed signs of alcohol dependence, says the study, which used the alcohol use disorder identification test (AUDIT), a tool developed by the World Health Organisation to asses alcohol consumption, drinking behavior and alcohol-related problems.

The study, which involved interviewing of 350 students, half the number of students enrolled at the Goa Medical College, said that Christian students showed a higher tendency for alcohol consumption, along with those students who hail from urban areas or live in hostels.

“As far as other socio-demographic factors were concerned, alcohol consumption was higher among Christian students (48.1 per cent), students from urban areas (43.8 per cent), students living in hostels (58.8 per cent) and those in highest economic scale 40.4 per cent,” the study states.

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The reason why Christian students at the institution show higher alcohol consumption, the state claims, is because “alcohol consumption is socially and culturally acceptable”.

“Higher consumption among students coming from urban areas could be due to adoption of a more Western or cosmopolitan way of life. Those in higher socio-economic class could be having greater opportunities to consume alcohol in terms of affordability, partying and clubbing habits, etc., resulting in higher consumption,” the study also states, adding those living in hostels away from home reported higher consumption which could be explained by lack of parental control and a sense of freedom.

The study also claims there is a linkage between alcohol consumption in students vis-a-vis their respective fathers drinking at home.

“There was an association between drinking in the father and alcohol consumption among the students. A complex mix of environmental and genetic factors has been shown to children of alcohol-dependent parents at higher risk of harmful alcohol and drug use,” the duo’s research states.

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They also said that one of their findings — that 17.7 per cent students were classified as heavy drinkers — is comparable to other similar studies in India, but added that the “proportion of hazardous alcohol consumption, alcohol consumption and binge drinking were also higher, which is a cause for concern”.

In February this year, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had expressed concern about girls drinking beer while speaking to students during an interaction.

“I have begun to fear now, because even the girls have started drinking beer. So the barrier of that tolerance limit is being crossed… Not all of them. I am not referring to this crowd,” he had said. The comments had stirred controversy, even inspiring a hashtag #GirlsWhoDrinkBeer on social media.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])



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