Irish teenage girls rank third in the world for binge drinking

Ireland is a nation that continues to drink to excess, downing 11 litres of pure alcohol per person last year.

That’s the equivalent to nearly a bottle of vodka a week, or 482 pints of lager a year.

A separate report warned that adolescent girls in Ireland have one of the highest levels of binge drinking in the world.

As we face into the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations, the shock statistics were deplored by Alcohol Action Ireland – which also warned about a rise in the consumption of spirits.

There has been a 21.4pc rise in spirit consumption over a five-year period, 2014-2018, amid a trend for greater consumption of gin and cocktails.

“This data disappointingly indicates that alcohol consumption remains stubbornly high at 11 litres per capita.

“Alcohol receipts for the year ended show a 1.78pc rise.

“However when an estimated population data for 2018 is applied the figures for consumption as a per capita, stand at 11 litres.

“This is indicative of essentially a status quo, year on year.”

At this rate the target to reduce our alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres per capita by next year – which was set in 2013 – will not be met unless there is a dramatic change in habits.

Ireland’s reputation as a country of heavy drinkers is not waning, and St Patrick’s Day approaches with alcohol again at the centre of festivities.

Separately, a study published in ‘The Lancet’ found the number of adolescents worldwide who are overweight or obese more than doubled between 1990 and 2016.

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 41 million boys and 26 million girls in 1990 to 44 million boys and 27 million girls in 2016.

The countries with the highest levels of young women binge drinking – with a prevalence of more than 55pc – were Denmark, Finland, Ireland and New Zealand, in that order.

The report found that smoking has decreased by 38 million people compared with 1990.

“This latest data demonstrates, yet again, the long way we, as a nation, have to travel to bring our drinking patterns down within a low-risk approach to alcohol consumption,” said Alcohol Action Ireland spokesman Eunan McKinney.

“Over 1,000 deaths per annum in Ireland are alcohol related and our public health services continue to spend in excess of 12pc of its budget on alcohol-related illnesses and incidences.

“Over 200,000 children continue to live in family circumstances where alcohol is having a negative impact on their development and their lives,” he warned.

He called for the implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Act which was passed last year “after many years of debate”.

The legislation allows for the introduction of minimum pricing to outlaw cheap drink as well as more graphic labelling.

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