Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Good news and bad news on teenage drinking:

Older high school children are continuing to drink at risky levels but alcohol use by younger teenagers has dropped, a new national survey shows.
Date: December 10 2012
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The latest survey of 25,000 Australian secondary school students, which is carried out every three years, has found about one in five pupils were "current drinkers" and had consumed alcohol in the past seven days.

The number of 12 to 15-year-olds classified as current drinkers dropped from 17% in 2008 to 11% in 2011, the Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug survey has found.

The proportion of 16- and 17-year-olds drinking the week before the survey also dropped, from 38% in 2008 to 33% in 2011, but the number of those drinking more than four drinks on one occasion remained relatively stable at 16% compared with 18% three years ago.

Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said the trend was worrying.

"We know the drinking patterns of adolescents in the final years of secondary school can be predictive of their drinking levels in the early years of adulthood, so the fact that 16- to 17 year olds are still binge drinking at around the same level as 2008 is concerning," Mr Harper said in a statement.

"It means another generation is inheriting risky drinking behaviour."

He said 45% of those 16- to 17-year-old current drinkers said they intended to get drunk on most occasions when they consumed alcohol.

Mr Harper said the government needed to address the availability of cheap alcohol and promoting it to young people, particularly during live television sport coverage.

"Drinking in teenage years is linked to higher risks of alcohol dependence problems in young adulthood, and excessive consumption is, in turn, a cause of many chronic illnesses such as cancer," Mr Harper said.

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