Findings from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2015 have been released, including the adult's drinking [pdf] and children's drinking [pdf] chapters. See here for the trend tables, data tables and press release.
The figures show that drinking amongst children aged 8-15 is at its lowest since the survey began, with 16% of boys and 15% of girls aged 8 to 15 reported having experience of drinking alcohol. For adults, mixed trends in consumption were found, generally supporting concerns over middle to older adults as at risk of rising consumption and harms.
The recent HSE findings though are also complicated by the recent change in guidelines which lowered the risk threshold for men to 14 units a week amidst much media attention. Otherwise, consistent differences are found with men typically drinking more, particularly in the North East, North West and South East, and amongst the higher socio-economic groups across both sexes (though less likely to experience harm).
Media picked up on the positive trend in consumption amongst young people who are also smoking less and eating more fruit and vegetables, though childhood obesity rates continue to climb.
Earlier this year Public Health England (PHE) released a 'data and intelligence summary' on young people's alcohol figures. Despite the positive trends, PHE warned that by the age of 17 half of all girls and almost two-thirds of boys drink alcohol every week and consumption is higher than the European average. Furthermore the decline in drinking among 11 to 15 year olds may be starting to level off with girls.
Consumption trends will continue to be watched closely during 2017. Will drinking falls level off amongst children and young people, fall further in younger adults and climb more amongst 'baby boomers'? These questions, alongside related harm data and policy debates will inevitably remain a regular feature.