Alcohol consumption declines – survey

The majority of Irish people who drink under the age of 25 binge-drink on a typical drinking occasion, with 67% of men and 39% of women doing so according to the latest Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 just published.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MRBI, was commissioned by the Department of Health.

In the 2015 survey, this binge-drinking among under-25s broke down as 75% of men and 38% of women, so men appear to have cut back while women appear to have increased their presence on the binge-drinking table.

The report provides an overview of results from this, the second wave of the Healthy Ireland Survey, an annual interviewer-administered face-to-face survey consisting of 7,498 interviews conducted with a representative sample of the population aged 15 and older.

The latest survey finds that the numbers of those who drink alcohol overall has fallen by a percentage point from 76% to 75%.

Similarly, the proportion of ‘drinkers’ who’d like to cut down on the amount of alcohol they drink has risen by one percentage point to 8% in this year’s survey which found that 14% of those who binge-drink on a typical drinking occasion would like to cut down on the amount of alcohol they drink.

While three-quarters of the population have drunk alcohol in the past year, 41% drink it at least once a week. This last figure is down from 2015’s 53%.

However where 53% of drinkers drank at least once a week in the 2015 survey, the 2016 one finds this percentage to have risen to 55% of drinkers, with weekly drinking highest among those aged 55 to 64 (66%).

37% of drinkers indicate that they drink six or more standard drinks (defined as binge-drinking) on a typical drinking occasion, down from 39% in the 2015 survey, with over a quarter (27%) consuming more than 10 standard drinks at least once in the past year – 44% of men and 9% of women.

Yet some 97% of drinkers consider themselves to be light or moderate drinkers with the majority under 25 (57%) considering themselves to be light drinkers despite 54% binge-drinking on a typical drinking occasion.

A quarter of drinkers indicate that they sometimes binge-drink but 29% of those who do not categorise themselves as an occasional binge-drinker consume six or more standard drinks at least once a month. But only 18% of women drink to this level.

Those drinkers over the age of 35 tend to drink at least once a week. The survey also found that drinkers living in more affluent areas are more likely to drink at least once a week than those living in more deprived areas.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has welcomed the findings of the survey.

“These results confirm what we in the industry already know” stated ABFI Director Ross MacMathúna, “that alcohol consumption in Ireland is declining and the vast majority of Irish consumers have a mature and responsible relationship with alcohol.

“Indeed, 58% of those surveyed in the report said they drink alcohol less frequently than once a week and the report also showed a decline in the numbers engaged in binge drinking.

“Todays’ results support those of the recent WHO Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Study which stated ‘Ireland is amongst a group of countries which have the most abstemious adolescents’,” he continued, “The reality is consumption of alcohol in Ireland has declined by 25%  over the last 15 years and is declining in particular amongst our young people. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the weekly drinking habits of those between 55 and 64 were the found to be the highest the survey.”



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