Alcohol drinking was once considered as a
male-oriented behavior by many traditional societies. With more and more women
coming out of their homes for work as well as socializing, the number of women
consuming alcohol is on the rise.
Alcoholism is a major problem in South Korea
resulting in increased costs of medical care as well as premature deaths.
Alcohol is a part of the social and professional life in South Korea; the
prevalence of male drinkers of 20 years or older increased from 74.8% in 1992
to 76.3% in 2005 and that of female drinkers has reached 40.8% in 2005 in the
same age group.
A study evaluated the gender differences in
high-risk drinking in South Korea and analyzed some of the probable reasons for
the same. The authors used the term "high-risk drinking" for excessive alcohol
intake which may cause immediate problems like accidental fall, fire, drowning,
industrial accidents and violence, or long-term problems like cancers,
alcoholic psychosis and dependence, cardiovascular diseases and inflammation of the
stomach and pancreas. For the purpose of
this study, high-risk drinking was taken as drinking >60 g pure alcohol per
drinking day by men and >40 g by women.
Information regarding drinking behavior was obtained
from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys. In addition,
some other information was collected that included age, marital status,
education level, occupational status, household income, body mass index (BMI)
and stress level of each individual.
The study revealed the following:
drinking was 5 times more common in men than in women irrespective of which
socioeconomic group the individual belonged to.
drinking reduced with age, especially in women. Drinking may be more common
in the younger age group due to more social activities of people in this group.
married reduced high-risk drinking more in women than in men. This reduction in women
may be due to two reasons: One, women may be discouraged from drinking
post-marriage in the male-dominated society. Secondly, women may be less likely
to lead unhealthy lifestyles post-marriage.
levels of education reduced high-risk drinking especially in women. This could be because
highly educated people were more aware of the risks associated with alcohol
• Working in a
manual job increased the high-risk drinking especially in women.
incomes lead to more high-risk drinking in men. This may be because of
their ability to pay more for the alcohol.
levels of stress were associated with high-risk drinking especially in women. Alcohol is one of the ways
employed by the people to reduce stress, as was evident by the study.
despite of limitations in the study, the study could help to formulate policies
against high-risk drinking separately in men and women, by understanding the
various factors responsible for this situation.
1. Woojin Chung, Seung Ji Lim and Sun Mi Lee. Why is high-risk drinking
more prevalent among men than women? Evidence from South Korea. BMC Public
Health 2012, 12:101 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-101