Irish teen girls near top of global binge drinking table

Irish adolescent girls have one of the highest levels of binge drinking in the world, according to a new global study.

The first study to track recent global changes in adolescent health, published in The Lancet, found that the number of adolescents worldwide who are overweight or obese more than doubled between 1990 and 2016.

Since 1990, the study found that an additional 250m adolescents in 2016 faced a triple burden of infectious disease, non-communicable diseases including obesity, and injuries which included harm from violence.

The researchers tracked progress in 12 indicators of adolescent health in 195 countries, including risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and binge drinking.

It was discovered that Ireland was one of the countries which was near the top of the table when it came to binge drinking.

The number of teenagers globally aged 15-19 years who binge drink changed little from 1990 — it has gone from 41m boys and 26m girls in 1990, to 44m boys and 27m girls in 2016.

The countries with the highest levels of young women binge drinking, with prevalence of over 55%, were Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand, in that order.

Denmark’s rate of adolescent binge drinking for females was 70% while the rate among Irish adolescent females was 61% and the rate for their Irish male counterparts was 58%.

In contrast, prevalence in both sexes in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt was under 1%.

“Despite having been a focus of policy attention in many high-income countries, the number of adolescents who binge drink has not shifted since 1990,” said the authors.

The report found that smoking has decreased globally with 136m adolescents smoking daily in 2016, a decrease of 38m compared with 1990.

The report also found that, in 2016, almost one in five or 324m of the world’s 1.8bn adolescents was overweight or obese, compared with the 147m adolescents who were overweight or obese in 1990.

The rate of Irish females aged between 10 and 24 years who were overweight or obese was 23% in 2016, compared with a rate of 32% for their male counterparts.

One of the study’s authors, Dr Azzopardi, said: “Given that recovery from adolescent obesity is rare once established, the consequences on health in later life and for the next generation could be great.”

The researchers also found that 430m, or a quarter of all adolescents globally, had anaemia in 2016, an increase of 74.2m compared with the 1990 figure.

In Ireland, just over 5% of adolescent females had anaemia along with just over 2% of adolescent males.

The study, titled ‘Progress in Adolescent Health and Wellbeing: Tracking 12 Headline Indicators for 195 Countries and Territories, 1990-2016’, has just been published in The Lancet.

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