Shunning alcohol becomes 'mainstream' among young people as a third are now teetotal, new study finds

 'Risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised,' says  Dr Linda Ng Fat

Ella Pickover
Wednesday 10 October 2018 00:47
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A large proportion of young people are shunning alcohol completely, according to a new study.

Researchers said that abstaining from alcohol was becoming "more mainstream" among people in England aged 16 to 24 after the study showed a rise in non-drinkers.

The new research, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that more than a quarter of youngsters classed themselves as "non drinkers".

Researchers from University College London said that the norms around alcohol drinking appeared to be changing.

They 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 has increased from 18 per cent in 2005 to 29 per cent in 2015.

Meanwhile the proportion of "lifetime abstainers" rose from 9 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent a decade later.

The study also appeared to show that fewer youngsters were drinking harmful amounts.

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

Binge drinking rates also decreased from 27 per cent in 2005 to 18 per cent 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.

"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," 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."

Press Association

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