Teenage drinking in the UK has dropped dramatically, with teens in England shunning booze more often than their European counterparts.
A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) examines how the drinking habits of 15-year-olds have changed between 2002 and 2014, revealing the largest decline in underage drinking for both boys and girls was in England, where spirit and beer consumption has also fallen significantly.
The research, led by researchers at the University of St Andrews, explains that more than half (50.3%) of teenage boys in England drank weekly in 2002, compared with just 10% in 2014.
Wales had the second largest drop in prevalence for boys, from 47.6% to 11.8% across the same period.
When it comes to girls, the number in England who drank alcohol weekly has fallen from more than two in five in 2002, to one in 10 in 2014.
This was the largest decline for girls across the 36 countries, followed by Scotland, which saw numbers drop from 41.1% to 10.7%.
Dr Jo Inchley, lead editor of the report, said: “Overall reductions in harmful drinking have been greatest in countries that traditionally have had higher prevalence, such as Great Britain and the Nordic region.
“This makes it clear that change is possible; however, more should be done to ensure that adolescents are effectively protected from the harms caused by alcohol.”
However, British teens do not fair so well when it comes to statistics on being drunk.
A higher percentage of 15-year-olds in the UK and Ireland said they have been drunk at least twice than in any other European country, while boys were just behind those in central-eastern Europe.
The study also examined the types of drinks consumed, finding the largest decreases in beer consumption were observed among 15-year-old boys in Wales, Denmark and England.
The largest decline in spirit drinking was among teenagers in England, Scotland and Denmark.
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, regional director for WHO Europe, said: “Young people are regular drinkers at an age where they should not be drinking at all.
“As we know that any alcohol consumption at this critical developmental stage in life is especially harmful, policy-makers have a responsibility to implement the measures we know are effective, such as limiting access, enforcing age checks and restricting any type of alcohol marketing, including digital marketing.”
WHO is still calling for policy changes to discourage underage drinking, urging countries worldwide to increase alcohol prices, restrict its availability and regulate advertising and promotions.