Youngsters putting off drinking alcohol, according to study


Fewer pupils under 16 are drinking alcohol, and older pupils are drinking less, according to the latest study by Flanders’ expertise centre on alcohol and drug use

Stricter legislation

The consumption of alcohol by teenagers is decreasing, and they are also starting to drink at a later age. The figures comes from the annual study among secondary school students published by VAD, the Flemish expertise centre for addiction problems related to alcohol, drugs and gambling.

The centre surveyed more than 27,100 students about their use of drugs and alcohol during the 2015-2016 school year. The figures on alcohol have evolved the most, according to VAD, and even drastically.

Ten years ago, just over 13% of students under 16 reported having never drunk alcohol. In the new study, more than 55% made such a claim. The percentage of youngsters older than 16 who had never drunk peaked at 15.4%, following a years-long fluctuation of about 10%.

“The positive trends are no longer limited to the younger students, but are now more widespread among older students,” stated VAD. The change, it said, could be explained by 2010 legislation that forbids the sale of alcoholic drinks to under-16s.

The average age at which youngsters have their first drink is now 14 years and five months, about a year later than in 2011. The pupils who do drink alcohol imbibe less often; those who reported drinking more than once a month is down from 27% a decade ago to 11% now.