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Underage drinking falls to record low
Published:  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%.