Underage drinking research


28 March 2008

Across the North West, over 80 percent of 15-16 year olds surveyed drank alcohol

A joint study by LJMU's Centre for Public Health, Trading Standards North West and the Home Office (North West) examines the amounts of alcohol consumed by 9,833 15-16 year olds in the North West and the health and social problems linked to this consumption.

The summary report, 'Risky Drinking in North West School Children and its Consequences: A Study of Fifteen and Sixteen Year Olds', can be downloaded from: www.cph.org.uk/publications.aspx

Key findings show:

  • Across the North West, over five sixths (84%) of 15-16 year olds surveyed drank alcohol. This is a decrease of around 4% from 2005. However, there has been an increase in the proportion of underage drinkers who drink in public places (bars, clubs, streets, parks) and the proportion drinking frequently (two or more times a week).
  • The authors conservatively estimate that 15-16 year olds in the North West drink around 84 million units a year in total. This is equivalent to 44 bottles of wine (or 177 pints of beer) per year for every 15 and 16 year old in the region, or 67 bottles of wine (269 pints of beer) per year for each 15 and 16 year old that drinks at least once a month.
  • Of the 190,000 15 and 16 year olds in the region, results suggest that around 57,000 binge drink (drinking five or more drinks in one session) at least weekly. Levels range from around a third of 15 and 16 year old drinkers bingeing at least weekly in the most affluent areas to around 40% in the poorest.
  • Across the North West, just under half of 15 and 16 year olds surveyed drank at least once a week. Of these, 40% of females and 42% of males had been involved in violence following drinking. Further, 15 and 16 year old drinkers that live in the poorest areas of residence were around 45% more likely to have been involved in alcohol-related violence than those in the most affluent areas.
  • Binge drinkers are also more likely to be involved in alcohol-related violence. For instance, those who binge drink three or more times a week are more than five times more likely to be involved in alcohol-related violence than individuals who drink but do not binge.
  • Heavy drinking patterns were also associated with higher levels of smoking.
  • Over a third of 15 and 16 year old drinkers report buying their own alcohol. These individuals were more likely to binge drink as well as to drink frequently and drink in public places.

Professor Mark Bellis, co-author of the report and director of the Centre for Public Health, said: "These figures highlight the sheer quantity of alcohol being consumed by underage drinkers across the North West. Sadly, there is still practically no information publicly available on what is a safe amount of alcohol for children to consume or on how parents can best moderate their children's drinking. Without a clear message that underage drunkenness will not be tolerated, we will continue to see the high levels of alcohol bingeing and related violence identified in this study. All too often such bingeing and violence not only damages children's lives but also results in whole communities feeling threatened by gangs of drunk teenagers."



Page last modified by Corporate Communications on 28 March 2008.
 
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