Young women have emerged as the biggest binge drinkers in the UK in new figures released on Wednesday (3 May).

For women aged 16 to 24, 40.5% of those interviewed reported binge drinking in the previous week – more than 6% higher than any other category.

Of their male counterparts, 34.4% are prone to binge drinking, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

The government body defines the drinking sprees as males who exceed eight units on their heaviest drinking day – roughly equivalent to four pints of beer or three quarters of a bottle of wine – and females who exceed six units, which is roughly three pints of beer or half a bottle of wine.

Experts believe the rise in women drinking between the ages of 16 and 24 is down to societal changes that have been exploited by drinks manufacturers.

Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of Alcohol Health Alliance UK, a group of 40 charities, told the Times: "This has happened as disposable income among young women has gone up, and the alcohol industry has sought to develop marketing strategies aimed at attracting more women to spend their income on alcohol.

"This explains the rise in recent years of fruit-based beers and ciders and drinks marketed as being low-calorie. In addition, wine and vodka, drinks preferred by women, have come down in price in real terms in recent years."

Boozing baby boomers

In spite of the changes, overall drinking has gone down among 16-to-24-year-olds since 2005.

The same is true for those aged between 25 and 44, as well as for the UK population as a whole. However, drinking among those from 45 to 64 has increased.

The figures show that 69% of men and 60% of women from that age group, considered to be baby boomers, drank alcohol in the previous week – more than any other age group in the UK.

In separate figures released by NHS Digital on Wednesday, there were an estimated 1.1 million admissions to hospital between 2015 and 2016 where alcohol was the primary or secondary issue.

Of those, over 60% were admissions of those aged between 45 and 74.

Dr Tony Rao, co-chair of the Older People's Substance Misuse working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the Guardian: "These figures show that alcohol abuse is not a 'young person problem'.

"While the rest of the population reduces its alcohol intake, it is very concerning that baby boomers are drinking at a similar rate as before and are exceeding recommended guidelines."