Despite considerable state investment and initiatives, binge drinking is still a major behavioral problem for policy-makers and communities in many parts of the world. Furthermore, bingeing on alcohol appears to be spreading amongst young people in countries traditionally considered to have moderate drinking behaviors. Using a socio-cultural lens and a framework of socio-cultural themes from the literature to develop propositions from an empirical study, this research examines binge drinking attitudes and behaviors between young people from high and moderate binge drinking countries. Proposals are then made on how policy-makers can use social marketing more effectively to contribute to behavior change. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 91 respondents from 22 countries who were studying in two high binge drinking countries at the time. The results show support for three contrasting socio-cultural propositions that identify different influences on binge drinking across these countries.

This paper looks at definitions of `drinks' and `low risk' or responsible drinking guidelines from different countries and how to balance a message-based on the Canadian, UK, WHO and US guidelines-that accepts that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. It should be noted that commercial communications regarding the benefits of moderate consumption are banned by advertising and marketing codes across the globe. The discussion looks at themes common to guidelines, where they exist, as well as at the importance of incorporating messages regarding pattern of drinking, drinking with food, messages for older populations, the family setting, and the role of parents as regards their responsibilities towards their children.

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