It may seem an uncouth way to spend the evening, but binge drinking could be an evolutionary tactic to woo women, say scientists.

Research suggests that heavy consumption of alcohol tells a potential mate that the binge drinker is "healthy and strong".

According to the authors of a study of American men published in the academic journal Evolutionary Psychology, heavy drinking among young adults delivers a 'sexual signal' that demonstrates their worth.

And the amount of drinking is influenced by the number of eligible men present compared to women.

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The researchers wrote: "More eligible men compared to women was associated with higher male binge drinking rates but lower female binge drinking rates."

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"Our findings generally support predictions derived from evolutionary theory and suggest binge drinking may function as a costly sexual signal, conditionally regulated by age and the local sex ratio."

Binge drinking was defined as the consumption of more than four alcoholic drinks for women and five drinks for men on a single occasion.

The authors, from the universities of Pennsylvania and Buffalo, also noted that binge drinking provides information about the characteristics of a drinker that would be useful when evaluating worth in a mate.

Data from the UK and other countries shows binge drinking is more prevalent among wealthier individuals, potentially reflecting affluence in a possible mate.

Adults are advised to reduce their long-term health risks by drinking less. Photo / File
Adults are advised to reduce their long-term health risks by drinking less. Photo / File

New Zealand's Health Promotion Agency recommends no more than two standard drinks a day for women or three for men to reduce long-term health risks, and at least two alcohol-free days a week.

ADVICE FOR ADULTS

Reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

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- two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week
- three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week
- at least two alcohol-free days every week

Reduce your risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking by drinking no more than:

- four standard drinks for women on any single occasion
- five standard drinks for men on any single occasion

The above advice is based on "standard drinks'. A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. A common serve or pour of an alcoholic beverage is often more than standard drink. Find out more about standard drinks.

(Source: Health Promotion Agency)

WHAT IS A STANDARD DRINK?

330 ml can of beer @ 4% alcohol = 1 standard drink

100 ml glass of table wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 1 standard drink

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335 ml bottle of RTD spirits @ 8% alcohol = 2.1 standard drinks

750 ml bottle of wine @ 13% alcohol = 7.7 standard drinks

1000 ml bottle of spirits @ 47% alcohol = 37 standard drinks

3 litre cask of wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 30 standard drinks

(Source: Ministry of Health)