The latest data on adult drinking habits has been released as part of the new Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN). A significant rise since 2005 in the number of young people aged 16 to 24 not drinking was responsible for an overall figure of 21% of adults now reporting as tee-total.
The overall proportion of adults who binged at least once in the previous week also decreased from 18% in 2005 to 15% in 2013, again driven by a significant drop amongst 16 to 24 year olds. However the proportion of adults aged 45-64 and 65 and over binging in the last week actually increased, although less significantly.
Regional factors are also important, with 32% of Londoners not drinking versus just 15% in the South West. London of course is likely to have a higher make of non-drinking young people in part due to non-drinking cultures, but the overall falls amongst young people are likely to be complex.
Perhaps most simply, overall consumption peaked around 2004 following decades on the up. The subsequent recession and slow return to growth is often cited for contributing to the decline in drinking, whilst young people may have been particularly hard hit. Attitudes may change for other reasons, and some academics have suggested younger generations seek to do things differently from their predecessors. Social media, other drugs, or as the ONS bulletin suggests, enforcement of under age sales may also be key factors.
Since 2013 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) release the OPN based on a new data collection method. Drinking patterns data were previously included in the General Lifestyle Survey (GLF) formerly known as the General Household Survey (GHS), which ran from 1971-2012.