Thursday, June 28, 2007

Early Friday Classes Could Cut College Drinking

(HealthDay News) -- Scheduling college classes before 10 a.m. on Fridays may reduce excessive student drinking on so-called "thirsty Thursdays," a U.S. study says.

Publishing in the July issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the researchers surveyed 3,341 undergraduates at a large Midwestern public university and found "significant relationships between the presence and timing of Friday classes and Thursday drinking," lead author Phillip K. Wood, professor of quantitative psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said in a prepared statement.

"About half of the students with late or no Friday classes consumed at least one drink on Thursday, but only a third of students did so if they had Friday classes which met at 10 a.m. or earlier," Wood said.

"Approximately two-thirds of students who consumed some alcohol Thursday consumed a 'binge amount' if they had late or no Friday classes. The Friday-class effect was more pronounced for populations which we know to be at risk for higher levels of alcohol consumption: men, and members of or frequent participants in Greek activities. We also found strong evidence that Thursday, in addition to Friday and Saturday, is associated with high prevalence and levels of alcohol consumption across all four years of college."

Among students who had late or no Friday classes, males who drank at least one drink on Thursday consumed an average of six to 7.5 drinks, while females consumed an average of four to five drinks.

Wood and his colleagues concluded that scheduling classes before 10 a.m. on Fridays may help decrease student drinking.

"Many students, particularly freshmen and sophomores, are required to take core classes," Wood said. "Early undergraduates may not have much choice if core classes were only available on Friday. Or perhaps it would be cost effective to offer students cheaper tuition if they elect to take early Friday (and Saturday) classes."

College student drinking is a major health issue in the United States.

"Drinking by 18- to 24-year-olds (leads to more than) 1,800 deaths annually, nearly 700,000 assaults annually by drinking college students, nearly 100,000 date rapes perpetrated by drinking college students, (and) half of those who die in crashes involving drinking drivers 18 to 24 are people other than the drinking driver," Ralph Hingson, director of the division of epidemiology and prevention research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a prepared statement.

More information
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about college drinking.

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