Fall in the number of teenage drinkers

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Teenage drinking in Scotland has declined dramatically over the past decade, according to new research.

The study, which was led by the University of St Andrews for the World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed that since 2002 weekly drinking among Scottish 15-year-olds has declined from 41 per cent to 11 per cent in girls and from 41 per cent to 14 per cent among boys.

Teenage drinking in Scotland has declined dramatically over the past decade, according to new research. Picture: John Devlin.

Teenage drinking in Scotland has declined dramatically over the past decade, according to new research. Picture: John Devlin.

The drop represents the second largest fall for girls and fourth largest for boys out of the 36 European countries included in the Adolescent alcohol-related behaviour: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002-2014 report.

However, despite the reductions the report concludes that levels of alcohol consumption remain dangerously high across Europe and continue to be a major public health concern.

Dr Jo Inchley, senior research fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews and lead editor of the report, said: “Overall reductions in harmful drinking have been greatest in countries that traditionally have had higher prevalence, such as Great Britain and the Nordic region.

“This makes it clear that change is possible; however, more should be done to ensure that adolescents are effectively protected from the harms caused by alcohol.”

The report identifies a number of possible reasons for the recent declines in alcohol consumption, including changes in household income, marketing and prevention approaches, as well as shifts in adult norms and teenage culture.

Meanwhile, the proportion of adults saying they did not drink alcohol has risen from 11 per cent in 2003 to 17 per cent in 2017 according to those questioned for the 2017 Scottish Health Survey.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “It’s really encouraging to see that more Scots are choosing not to drink alcohol at all.

“However, around one in four of us are drinking over the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 14 units a week, putting them at risk of cancer, heart problems and liver disease.”