Reported levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking within the UK undergraduate student population over the last 25 years

Alcohol Alcohol. Mar-Apr 2002;37(2):109-20. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/37.2.109.


Results of a literature review of 18 studies investigating the drinking behaviour of undergraduate students at UK universities over a period of 25 years are presented. While comparison between studies is complicated by inconsistencies in the terms employed to describe drinking behaviour, it is concluded that significant numbers of both male and female students are reported to exceed sensible weekly consumption guidelines. Recorded levels of binge drinking among both female and male students are extremely variable between studies. Further research is needed to clarify this position. However, if the most recent research evidence is substantiated, female and male binge drinking levels may exceed those of their peers in the general population and their US counterparts. The reported ramifications of harmful drinking for the health and well-being of students are reviewed. A possible link between poor academic performance and alcohol consumption appears tenuous and merits further investigation. Evidence relevant to the view that the drinking behaviour of female students is changing is considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Temperance / psychology
  • Temperance / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol