A higher proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds said they avoided alcohol in 2015 – between 25% and 33% – compared with one fifth in 2005, research from the BMC Public Health medical journal has suggested.
In the past, non-drinkers were relatively rare and treated with suspicion, but now the practice is now found across various segments of society and becoming “more mainstream”, the journal said.
The study that looked at the drinking habits of almost 10,000 16 to 24-year-olds, also found the non-drinking trend was spread across many social classes and geographical regions.
Young reject alcohol
“It has been well documented that more young people are not drinking alcohol,” wrote lead report author Dr Linda Ng Fat.
“In our study based on 9,699 adults aged between 16 and 24, within the nationally representative Health Survey for England, we found the proportion of non-drinkers increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.
“This was driven by a larger proportion of young people not taking up drinking alcohol at all, which has almost doubled over the same period, from 9% to 17%.”
Abstinence is becoming a core value among younger consumers, driven by movements including Club Soda and morning alcohol-free raves, Ng Fat explained.
Periods of abstinence
“There has also been prolific health campaigns that promote periods of abstinence that have grown in popularity, such as Go Sober for October and Dry January,” Ng Fat added.
Increased research around alcohol’s impact on health and wellbeing could also be a factor in the trend, as the age group becomes more health conscious. This coincidentally aligns with a reduction in teenage pregnancies, drug use and smoking, she said.
“Along with an increase in non-drinking, we found the number of 16 to 24-year-olds engaging in periodic abstinence increased from one in three not drinking in the past week in 2005, to one in two in 2015,” Ng Fat continued.
“There has also been a reduction in the numbers drinking above recommended limits and binge drinking; over one in four had binge drunk in the past week in 2005, compared to fewer than one in five in 2015.”