Tuesday 24 April 2018

Young are biggest binge-drinkers in the EU - but people live longer

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Laura Lynott

Young Irish people have the highest rate of binge-drinking in the EU, with more than a quarter of young men and women drinking heavily at least once a week.

A quarter of men and more than 15pc of women aged 18 to 24 in Ireland engaged in binge-drinking at least once a week in 2014.

Binge-drinking is defined as ingesting six or more drinks at a time, equivalent to three pints of beer or six pub measures of spirits.

The figures released by the Central Statistics Office show binge-drinking rates among men are more than double the EU average of 11.7pc for this age group.

Some 15.5pc of Irish women aged 18-24 engaged in binge-drinking at least once a week in 2014, the highest rate in the EU for women. This is well above the EU average of 4.3pc for women aged 18-24.

The statistics also showed just under a quarter (23.9pc) of Irish males aged 15 and over were smokers in 2014, compared with a fifth of females. Men also outstrip women in terms of being overweight or obese. Almost two-thirds (63.1pc) of men aged 18 and over were overweight in 2014, while just under half (48.4pc) of women were overweight.

Life expectancy for a man in Ireland is 79.6 years on average, compared with83.4 years for women - a difference of 3.8 years.

Both are higher than the EU averages, which stand at 77.9 years for men and 83.3 years for women.

Reacting to the figures on drinking, Dr Bobby Smyth, of Alcohol Action Ireland, said: "Binge-drinking is normalised in Ireland, and we have to stop this with policy to help improve the health of our future children.

"The Public Health Alcohol Bill has been languishing in the Dáil and Seanad for the past two years. The Government needs to enact this bill to make the cheapest, strongest drink more expensive, to reduce aggressive advertising and to make alcohol less convenient to buy.

"The State needs to put the health of children and the young ahead of profits for the drink industry, and this is a public health matter."

Irish Independent

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