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Youngsters turning their back on booze

11 October 2018 08:20

Abstinence from alcohol is increasingly common among youngsters

Abstinence from alcohol is increasingly common among youngsters

The image of the boozy backpacker might be a thing of the past as a new study suggests more and more youngsters are shunning alcohol completely.

According to the research, abstaining from alcohol is becoming more common among 16-24-year-olds, as figures show a rise in the number of younger non-drinkers.

The study, published in the BMC Public Health journal, shows that more than a quarter of young people identify as "non-drinkers" - in what researchers call a sign that social norms are changing.

Increased abstinence

Scientists from University College London studied data from the annual Health Survey for England and found that the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who do not drink alcohol increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.

Meanwhile the proportion of "lifetime abstainers" rose from 9% in 2005 to 17% a decade later. The study also appeared to show that fewer youngsters were drinking harmful amounts.

In 2005, two in five (43%) admitted drinking above the recommended limits, but this fell to just 28% 10 years later.

Binge drinking rates also decreased from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2015.

But the increased rates in non-drinking were not observed among smokers, ethnic minorities and those with poor mental health, according to the study, which analysed data on almost 10,000 young people.

Cultural factors

"Increases in non-drinking among young people were found across a broad range of groups, including those living in northern or southern regions of England, among the white population, those in full-time education, in employment and across all social classes and healthier groups," said Dr Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study.

"That the increase in non-drinking was found across many different groups suggests that non-drinking may becoming more mainstream among young people which could be caused by cultural factors."

She added: "The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised."

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