The contribution of other risk factors to disease, such as tobacco use, low physical activity and overweight/obesity only emerged in mid-to-late adulthood.
These findings suggest that public health strategies should focus on child and adolescent health, and that adolescent drinking should be given priority (Gore , 2011).
Spirits were the most common beverage for girls in over half of countries.
Rates of ‘heavy episodic drinking’, defined as more than five or more drinks on the same occasion in the past 30 days, were 43% for boys and 38% for girls.
The target population was students born in 1995 and the mean age at the time of data collection was 15.8 years.
In all ESPAD countries except Iceland, 79% of students had consumed alcohol at least once in the past 12 months and 57% had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. The estimated average consumption on the most recent drinking day was a third higher for boys who were more likely to drink beer.
Regular alcohol use, binge drinking and other risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, substance use and risky sexual behaviour emerge in adolescence and there is evidence that these behaviours tend to cluster together (Wiefferink , 2013).
Young people who start to drink before the age of 15 years are reported to be four times more likely to meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives (Grant and Dawson, 1997).
The median age at onset was 14 years for alcohol abuse with or without dependence.
This was a nationally representative survey in which over 10,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 18 were interviewed using a modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.