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Non-drinking becomes ‘mainstream’ among under-25s

Almost a third of those aged between 16 and 24 are choosing to abstain from alcohol but reasons as to why remain unclear, a new study has suggested.

Young people in England are increasingly opting to not drink alcohol

A total of 9,699 people were questioned for the study and the results, published in the medical journal BMC Public Health, showed a clear decline in alcohol consumption among the under-25 demographic.

Researchers analysed official health data from the last 10 years and discovered 29% of 16- to 24-year-olds in England in 2015 said they did not drink alcohol, compared to 18% in 2005.

This was largely attributable to increases in lifetime abstention, the study said. Rates of not drinking in the past week have also risen from 35% in 2005 to 50% in 2015.

The study also said non-drinking appears to have increased across “almost all sub-groups”, including healthy groups (non-smokers, high physical activity and good mental health), those in employment or full-time education, and both northern and southern regions in England. This suggested that non-drinking was becoming “more mainstream” among young people.

Furthermore, only 28% of those surveyed confessed to having consumed above the recommended guidelines in 2015, compared to 43% in 2005. The number of lifetime abstainers has also almost doubled from 9% in 2005 to 17% in 2015.

In conclusion, the study said: “Increases in non-drinking among young people has coincided with a delayed initiation into alcohol consumption and are to be welcomed.

“Future research should explore attitudes towards drinking among young people.”

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