A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that binge drinking continues to be a widespread problem among U. S. colleges, Reuters reported Sept. 10. In particular, the report identified binge drinking among fraternity and sorority students as a major concern.

The study, led by Harvard School of Public Health professor Henry Wechsler, was conducted in 1997 at 116 campuses in 39 states. A total of 14, 521 students were interviewed. The researchers found that 42. 7 percent of students were binge drinkers, with 20.

7 percent frequent binge drinkers. In addition, 81. 1 percent of those living in fraternity or sorority houses were binge drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of at least five drinks in a row for men or four drinks in a row for women.

"If colleges are to have an impact on their alcohol problems, they must change this drinking culture drastically," said Wechsler. The survey also indicated that 22. 5 percent of students had unplanned sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol and 35. 8 percent drove after drinking. Frequent binge drinkers were found to be at least eight times as likely to miss a class, fall behind in their schoolwork, have blackouts, become injured and damage property. The results of the survey appear in the September issue of the Journal of American College Health..