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‘No’ to alcohol? More young people are choosing not to drink alcohol in UK

Young people in England aren’t just drinking less alcohol but most of them are never taking up alcohol at all, and that the increase is widespread among them, said a new study published in BMC Public Health.

Researchers at University College of London analysed data from the annual Health Survey for England and found that the proportion of 16-24 year olds who don’t drink alcohol has increased from 18 per cent in 2005 to 29 per cent in 2015.

The authors found this trend to be largely due to an increasing number of people who had never been drinkers, from 9% in 2005 to 17% in 2015. There were also significant decreases in the number of young people who drank above recommended limits (from 43% to 28%) or who binge drank (27% to 18%). More young people were also engaging in weekly abstinence (from 35% to 50%).

Dr Linda Ng Fat, corresponding author of the study said: “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.”

He has attributed it to the fact that non-drinking may be becoming more mainstream among young people which could be caused by cultural factors or peer pressure. However, the trend is not found among ethnic minorities, those with poor mental health and smokers suggesting that the risky behaviours of smoking and alcohol continue to cluster.

The researchers examined data on 9,699 people aged 16-24 years collected as part of the Health Survey for England 2005-2015 looking at changes in the health and lifestyles of people across England.

The authors analysed the proportion of non-drinkers among social demographic groups and health sub-groups, along with alcohol units consumed by those that did drink and measured their levels of binge drinking for the study.

 

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