Binge drinking -- essentially, chugging alcohol and typically getting drunk in the process -- can lead to drunk driving and other problems. In the study, binge drinking was defined as downing at least five drinks in a single sitting.
Youngsters who were already facing three or more health conditions had twice the odds of binge drinking, the researchers said.
"We are particularly concerned that the young adolescents most likely to binge drink are those who have substantial physical health challenges," study author Esme Fuller-Thomson, chair of the University of Toronto's faculty of social work, said in a university news release. "Clearly, pediatricians and other health professionals need to be particularly attentive to screening for binge drinking in these vulnerable youth."
"We also found that youth with mood disorders had three times the odds of binge drinking," added study co-author Matthew Sheridan, a manager at a children's mental health centre. "This should signal that mental health is an important factor to consider in targeting outreach for binge drinking prevention and cessation programs."
The researchers based their conclusions on a survey of almost 6,200 Canadian children in 2005.
The findings were published recently in the journal ISRN Public Health.
For more about drinking and young people, try the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.