Youngsters drinking less alcohol

12 October 2018

Young people are drinking less or not starting to drink alcohol at all, a new study has found...

Excessive drinking is most likely to cause death or illness in 15 to 49 year olds. Over drinking is particularly damaging to your long term health, leading to over 60 medical conditions including liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease and numerous forms of cancer. In 2015 there were an estimated 1.1 million hospital admissions due to alcohol consumption. This represents a huge annual cost of £3.5 billion for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.

Fermentation methods to brew alcohol have been used since the dawn of civilisation. But it is only relatively recently in our history that we have become aware of the health risks of over-drinking. Nowadays, many social events and celebrations revolve around drinking alcohol. For example, University days are meant to be for learning but more likely become a time for drinking too much cheap booze.

But can you get away with not drinking? A group of researchers analysed representative data from the annual Health Survey for England from 2005 to 2015 for around ten thousand participants aged 16 to 24.

Remarkably, over ten years, non-drinkers in this age category “has risen from around 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015,” said, Linda Ng Fat, the lead author of the study. They also found that the number of youths that had never tried alcohol increased from 9% to 17%.

There are significant societal problems associated with over alcohol consumption such as crime, disorderly behaviour and lost work days recovering from the binge. Fortunately, the study also found that over ten years, 30% less young people were drinking over the recommended limits or binge drinking.

The researchers revealed that the non-drinking trend was true across all geographic areas of England and social classes as well as for students, workers and white people. The prevalence of non-drinking trends across such a wide range of groups suggests that it is becoming more acceptable for young people to abstain from alcohol.

Due to the nature of the data it was not possible to link the non-drinking behaviour to a particular cause. But the reduction in non-drinking behaviour will undoubtedly relieve pressure on the NHS from treating alcohol related illnesses. Linda reassures us that “if you don’t want to drink alcohol, that’s fine,” and hopefully non-drinking tendencies will continue to decrease.

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