Underage drinking falls to record low

18 December, 2017

Underage drinking has fallen to record lows, according to new findings from NHS Digital.

Data from the group shows that the proportion of 8-15 year olds reporting ever having had an alcoholic drink has fallen 67% since 2003, and data to 2016 shows this is now at a record low.

In 2003, 45% of 8-15 year olds reported that they had tried an alcoholic drink, whereas this has fallen to 15% of children, according to NHS Digital.

In 2016 a total of 50% of those aged 11 to 15 agreed it was ok to try alcohol to see what it is like, which is down from 67% in 2003.

Meanwhile, the number of alcohol-specific hospital admissions among under 18s has declined by 48% in the last decade, while harmful drinking has fallen since 32% since 2005, according to data by ONS, which looked at the 16 to 24 year-old age group. ONS data also shows binge drinking amongst this age group had dropped 33% since 2005.

John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “This is really welcome and encouraging news. Underage drinking has now hit a record low with children today significantly less likely to drink alcohol or think that getting drunk is okay than in previous generations. Parents and guardians have played a key part in this education and Christmas is a great opportunity to reinforce these important messages and show that alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly over the festive period.

“Drinks producers and retailers have put a huge amount of effort into tackling underage drinking through robust ID schemes. Community Alcohol Partnership and effective self-regulation of alcohol marketing and we are now seeing the positive impact these interventions are making.”

In the last decade alcohol consumption has fallen by 18% and data from NHS Digital shows that the population is becoming more responsible in its consumption as the proportion of adults who do not exceed 14 units a week is now 76%.

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