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Young Brits drink less but 'bingeing' still a problem

"Binge-drinking" is still prevalent among young British drinkers despite longer-term trends indicating that young adults in the country are drinking less and less, according to the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Having measured U.K. drinking habits from 2005 to 2014, the ONS found that young people in 2014 were less likely to have drunk alcohol in the previous week than older groups, with less than half of 16 to 24-year-olds reporting doing so in the survey, compared with 66 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds.

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Moreover, for the younger group, the proportion who had drunk alcohol had fallen from 60 percent in 2005, whereas there had been only a small decline for the older group, down from 69 percent over the same period.

However, those who did drink among the 16 to 24-year-old group were more likely than any other group to "binge drink" and have more than 14 units in one day. 17 percent of the 16 to 24-year-olds, compared with 11 percent for the next highest group, the 25 to 44-year-olds, admitted to such practices.

The new U.K. government guidance is that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread over at least three days. These 14 units equate to six pints of beer with a 4 percent alcohol content, six 175ml glasses of wine with a 13 percent alcohol content, or 14 25ml glasses of sprits with a 40 percent alcohol content.

The survey showed that, in all, around 2.5 million people in the U.K. drank more than the recommended weekly limit for alcohol in a single day. In addition, the ONS statistician James Jenkins said that "it's clear from these figures that although there are now more people, especially younger ones, who don't drink alcohol at all, there is still a significant group of other people who are drinking well in excess of the latest health advice."

Last year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) raised concerns over alcohol consumption across its 34 member states, with drinking among women and children on the rise.

The organization ranked Estonia as the country that drinks the most. The eastern European country – along with Russia, India and China -- saw domestic drinking spike over 50 percent during the two decades to 2012.

In countries like Italy, however, consumption fell over 40 percent, while France and Portugal's alcohol use was down over 20 percent.

- Kalyeena Makortoff contributed reporting to this story.

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