You‘ve been told that drinking alcohol is bad for you many times. You‘ve probably seen how it can damage lives and families. And yet it is still entirely up to you to make that choice. Scientists from UCL found that more and more young people make that choice not to drink. In fact, the numbers of people who drink are constantly decreasing.
Researchers analysed a 10-year period of data and found that 18 % of 16-24 year olds were not drinking in 2005, but now this percentage increased to 29 %. And alcohol consumption statistics is just getting better in every regard. While 9 % of young people in 2005 admitted that they have never been drinkers, in 2015 this number changed to 17 %. At the same time the number of binge drinkers reduced from 27% to 18% and drinking above recommended limits from 43 % to 28 %. Although this research only included England, scientists were happy to see that stats were getting better in all locations and socioeconomic levels.
But what caused this rapid decrease of alcohol consumption between younger people? Well, a very welcome change – non-drinking is becoming more mainstream. It is becoming trendy. Scientists say that public health programmes should capitalize on this shift and keep it going. Researchers are also noting that risky behaviours, such as binge drinking in this case, are becoming less and less normalized. Now people encourage each other to behave somewhat responsibly, in terms of not getting in trouble. Dr Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study, said: “These trends are to be welcomed from a public-health standpoint. Factors influencing the shift away from drinking should be capitalised on going forward, to ensure that healthier drinking behaviours in young people continue to be encouraged”.
However, in some groups these positive trends were not found. For example, smokers, ethnic minorities and those with poor mental health continue their unhealthy drinking practices. Scientists say that the risky behaviours of smoking and alcohol continue to cluster. However, recognizing the reasons why drinking is becoming less and less fashionable could be the way forward.
Scientists stress that this research didn’t look for causal relations. Instead it looked over the main trends concerning drinking and results are very positive. Future studies will have to see what is actually causing young people to leave alcohol aside and how public health organizations can capitalize on that.