Female drinking habits keeping pace with those of men.

Women have all but caught up with men at knocking back alcohol, a global study of drinking habits shows.

The analysis of 4 million people, born between 1891 and 2001, showed that men used to be far more likely to drink and have resulting health problems.

But the current generation have pretty much closed the gap.

The changing roles of men and women in society partly explain the move towards boozing parity.

The study showed that in people born in the early 1900s, men were:

  • More than twice as likely as women to drink alcohol at all (2.2 times)
  • Three times as likely to drink to problematic levels
  • And 3.6 times as likely to develop health problems from drinking, such as liver cirrhosis

But over the ensuing decades, the gap closed so that for those born at the end of the century men were only:

  • A smidge – 1.1 times – as likely as women to drink alcohol at all
  • A much lower 1.2 times as likely to drink to problematic levels
  • And 1.3 times as likely to develop health problems from drinking

The team at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, analysed data from people all over the world – although it was massively skewed towards North America and Europe.

They concluded: “Alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon.

STORY BY James Gallagher for BBC NEWS