Binge drinking has been linked to escalating costs of hospitalisation and to premature mortality, and implicated in a range of acute and chronic health problems as well as crime, violence and other negative aspects of the wider well-being agenda. Variously defined, it can be characterised as brief periods of heavy drinking (across one day or evening) within a longer time-frame of lower consumption or even abstinence (across a week or several weeks). In England the current binge drinking epidemic has become particularly salient in the past decade and has been seen largely in terms of excessive consumption by younger people, particularly women in urban centres. It has also been linked to the liberalisation of licencing laws and the promotion of 24 h club cultures. This paper presents an observational study of the regional development of binge drinking between 2001 and 2009 as evidenced in the Health Survey for England. We innovate by using two different definitions of binge drinking within a multivariate multilevel modelling framework, with a focus on the random effects attributable to the year of study and region. We control for age, sex, ethnicity, marital status and individual socio-economic status, and confounding by neighbourhood deprivation and urbanisation. The paper identifies pronounced regional geographies that persist in the face of controls and vary little over time, and strong spatio-temporal gender differences which reflect the definition of binge drinking.
Keywords: Alcohol; Binge drinking; England; Health related behaviour; Health survey for England; Multivariate multilevel modelling.
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