Underage drinking drops to lowest levels since records began

Just 38 per cent of modern-day teenagers have drunk alcohol, compared to 62 per cent in 1988

Katie Gleeson
Friday 01 July 2016 16:22

Underage drinking among teenagers in England has dropped to its lowest level since records began.

Official figures released by the government show the proportion of 11-15 year olds who had consumed alcohol has steadily declined. In the latest period analysed, 2014, 38 per cent of those surveyed in this age group admitted to having drunk alcohol, compared to 62 per cent when the survey began in 1988.

The research shows that drinking among under-16s has been in steady decline since 2003.

The advent of social media has been cited as one possible cause for the societal shift. Additional research on young people’s social attitudes identified that more time spent online has led to “less time and opportunity to participate in traditional risk behaviours” including underage drinking as well as drug taking, smoking, and teenage pregnancy.

Leading UK alcohol charity Alcohol Concern said the downward drift was “encouraging” but warned that although fewer children are drinking alcohol overall, those who do may be drinking larger quantities.

A spokesperson said: “looking at the broader picture it’s a case of more alcohol down fewer throats. Young people in the UK continue to drink more than young people in most other developed countries and in 2013/14 and a staggering 10,000 children and young people accessed treatment last year citing alcohol as a reason.”

The report showed that young people were running contrary to a national trend, with worryingly high numbers of alcohol related hospital admissions and deaths in adults – 1.1 million and 6,831 respectively - being reported in 2014. The report noted: “Alcohol continues to be the leading risk factor for deaths among both men and women aged 15 – 49, and these deaths can be prevented.”

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