Teens From Affluent Families Twice As Likely To Drink Alcohol Regularly

Teen preparing alcohol

A new study found that teens from middle class families were twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly compared to those belonging to the most deprived families.

Teenagers from affluent families are more commonly exposed by their parents to wine drinking during social events. Such act may appear harmless, but the truth is it can result in detrimental alcohol drinking habits in the future.

The Numbers

In the study conducted by the Health and Social Care Information Center in England, 70 percent of 15-year-old participants from middle class families had tried drinking alcohol. For participants with the same age but with poorer backgrounds, only 50 percent have tried to drink alcohol. A total of 120,000 teens were included in the investigation.

To get the numbers, the study subjects were asked seven questions, which yielded the prevalence and frequency of alcohol drinking and drunkenness, the age of first try and the effects of drinking.

The study also found that teens from affluent families are more likely to persist alcohol drinking after their first try.

Other Findings

Aside from the affluent teenagers being more likely to drink than their peers, numerous other findings surfaced in the investigation.

Most young people have had the experience of drinking alcohol at some point. About 62 percent of teens admitted to drinking a whole alcoholic beverage (not just a sip). Teens who said they have never drank alcohol were only 38 percent.

As for the frequency of drinking, six percent was classified as regular drinkers, that is, consuming alcohol once a week at the minimum. About eight percent drink every fortnight, 11 percent drink once a month and lastly, 32 percent drink occasionally throughout the entire year.

Boys were more likely to be regular drinkers than girls with a 7 percent and 6 percent rate respectively. Meanwhile, girls had higher percentages in terms of drinking every fortnight, once a month and occasionally during the year, compared to boys.

Zero Alcohol Consumption

“These figures are clearly worrying,” said Colin Shevills from Balance, the North East Alcohol office in the UK. He added that the best thing to do is to maintain zero alcohol consumption during childhood.

Shevills explained that alcohol increases young people’s vulnerability, pushing them to make bad decisions, which they may regret later in life. Alcohol may also put the young at a high risk of developing about 60 medical conditions, including seven kinds of cancer associated with alcohol.

Parental Guidance Is Key

Drinkaware medical adviser Sarah Jarvis advised parents to engage in frank discussions with their children regarding the risks of alcohol consumption. Instead of exposing children to little amounts of alcohol to increase their awareness, child-parent conversations is the way to go.

“The idea you can ‘inoculate’ children by introducing them early tends to be one promoted by the drinks industry, but all the data works the other way,” said liver specialist Nick Sheron from Univeristy of Southampton.