A new study released on Tuesday details developments in alcohol consumption patterns, with binge drinking among young people of particular concern. The study presents data from the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the Associated Press.
General decrease in alcohol consumption masks worrying trend
The OECD says that it has recorded a 2.5% decrease in average annual alcohol consumption over the past 20 years, to 9.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita. Although the overall trend may appear to be good news on the surface, the figures hide a dangerous development in young people.
Hazardous drinking among the young is on the rise, says the OECD, who measures the phenomenon using both the amount of, and the rate at which, alcohol is consumed.
Binge drinking among young people is an important issue, and the OECD says that it is a “major public health and social concern.” Officials are worried that children are starting to consume alcohol at younger and younger ages. The report claims that dangerous consumption of alcohol now leads to a greater proportion of worldwide deaths than a combination of HIV, AIDS, violence and tuberculosis.
Youth drinking an increasing problem
The proportion of boys aged 15 and under who reported having been drunk increased to 43% from 30% during the 2000s, while girls of the same age recorded an increase to 41%, up from 26%.
Binge drinking is generally defined as the consumption of 5 or more drinks on one occasion once a week, and is on the rise among the populations of Canada, Germany and Italy. The OECD says that its figures also show an increase among French men and New Zealand women.
The OECD reported conflicting results from surveys about youth binge drinking in the United States. One study showed little or no increase, but figures from another survey showed that dangerous consumption of alcohol is rising.
One bright spot is the reduction of binge drinking in England and Ireland over the past two decades. Both countries are known to have a problem with young drinkers.
Estonia, Austria and France recorded the highest rates of alcohol consumption, with survey participants consuming an annual average of over 12 liters per capita, although consumption has dropped in Austria and France. On the other hand, alcohol consumption in Estonia has risen nearly 60% from 1992-2012.