More under-25s not drinking alcohol
A third of young people are now teetotal, according to a new study which claims drinking habits are changing.
The study found that the proportion of 16–24 year olds who don't drink alcohol has increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.
Health behaviours survey
Researchers from University College London investigated the growing trend of non-drinking among young people. They analysed surveys of people aged 16 to 24 in England.
The Health Survey for England is an annual nationwide survey that asks people about a range of health behaviours. Data from the survey from between 2005 and 2015 were analysed – this involved nearly 10,000 people.
The participants were asked whether they drank alcohol. If they answered ‘no’, they were then asked whether they had ever drank alcohol, had previously drank alcohol or occasionally drank alcohol. Those who answered ‘yes’ were then asked how many units they drank.
The results showed that the number of people aged 16–24 who describe themselves as non-drinkers rose by 11% between 2005 and 2015, with almost a third now being teetotal.
The number who had never drank alcohol rose from 9% to 17%. Those who drank above the recommended weekly alcohol levels fell from 43% to 28%, and binge-drinking fell from 27% to 18%.
The results appear to suggest an increase in health awareness, with non-drinking increasing in those who don’t smoke and those who do a lot of exercise. However, non-drinking rates also increased in people who don’t eat a lot of fruit or vegetables.
There was no increase found in non-drinkers amongst those with poor mental health and those from ethnic minorities.
The reductions in drinking were seen across most groups of young people, for example those who are employed and those who are in education, and across all income groups.
The researcher conclude from their study that there is a shift happening in attitudes towards alcohol, as well as changes in how young people spend their free time.
Dr Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study, said: “The increase in non-drinking was found across many different groups and suggests that non-drinking may be becoming more mainstream among young people, which could be caused by cultural factors.
“The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour may be becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised.”
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