Development of Alcohol Consumption Among Young People
giving particular consideration to consumption habits regarding alcopops
The consumption of spirits-based alcopops among 12 to 17 year-old young people declined significantly between 2004 and 2005, both in terms of frequency and as regards quantity. At the same time, there is an increase in the percentage of respondents who have not drunk these alcopops at all in the past year. 12 to 15 year-olds are reducing their consumption to an even greater extent.
Spirits-based alcopops are primarily no longer being bought because they have become too expensive as a result of the introduction of the tax on alcopops, and because young people are better informed about the associated health risks.
The percentage of young people drinking wine and beer-based alcopops at least once a month is also declining. This decrease is more pronounced among young females than among young males. However, the quantity of alcohol (grams of alcohol per week) consumed by young people in the form of wine/beer-based alcopops has risen from 3.9 g to 5.3 g. This increase is, however, smaller than the decline in the quantity of alcohol consumed in the form of spirits-based alcopops (from 8.5 g in 2004 to 4.2 g in 2005).
Powdered alcopops, which produce a ready-to-drink alcopop beverage when dissolved in water, were consumed by roughly 1% (0.78%) of 12 to 17 year-old young people in the last 30 days prior to the survey in 2005. At that time, it played hardly any role in terms of the alcohol consumption of this age group.
As regards the other types of alcohol covered by the study, it can be seen that the frequency of consumption of beer and spirits remains constant. The frequency of consumption of wine/ sparkling wine and cocktails/long drinks among 12 to 17 year-olds is declining significantly. A decrease in the quantities of alcohol consumed (grams of pure alcohol per week) for the individual types of alcohol is primarily to be observed among young males.
Addition of all the quantities of alcohol consumed indicates that total alcohol consumption (grams of pure alcohol per week) among young people is declining, both including and excluding spirits-based alcopops.
Risky alcohol consumption among 12 to 17 year-old young people decreased in the period covered by the survey. The percentage of young people drinking five or more glasses of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) on at least one occasion in the last 30 days is on the decline, as is the percentage of young people reporting having been drunk at least once in the last three months.
The assessments of the perceived health hazards are changing in different ways as regards risky drinking patterns. In 2005, fewer young people see binge drinking as being a major health hazard than in 2004. In contrast, more young people in 2005 rate drunkenness as a major hazard.
Conclusion: Both the consumption of spirits-based alcopops and alcohol consumption in general are developing in the intended direction. Nevertheless, observation is necessary in order to establish whether these effects are merely transitory. In particular, there will be a need to examine the development of consumption of low-alcohol, spirits-based alcopops and of wine/beer-based alcopops.