Every four years, the amazing Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), a WHO collaborative cross-national study, has provided information about the health, well-being, social environment and health behaviour of 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys and girls for over 30 years. The 2017/2018 survey report presents data from over  220 000 young people in 45 countries and regions in Europe and Canada.

The report reveals trends on a large range of issues such as relations with family, peers, school and  online, mental health, weight and body image, and of course key health behaviours (patterns of eating, physical activity and tooth-brushing) and risk behaviours (use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis, sexual behaviour, fighting and bullying). New items on electronic media communication and cyberbullying are new to this latest report.

In England, there has been a steady decline is most negative health behaviours since 2002 – Incidence of regular smoking and drinking has decreased dramatically from 2002 to 2018, with only very few young people reporting that they had smoked (3%) or drank alcohol (7%) at least 3 times during the last 30 days. Around one quarter of 15 year olds said that they had been drunk twice or more during their life.  One fifth (21%) of 15 year olds said that they had ever tried cannabis, which is a substantial decrease since 2002 (41%).V Overall only 9% of young people reported that they  had ever drunk alcohol to excess (been drunk) 2 or more times, both girls and boys. The prevalence of drinking to excess increased with age, with more than one quarter of 15 year olds reporting that they had been drunk twice or more during their life. We are very pleased to say that the proportion of 15 year old girls who reported that they had been drunk has considerably decreased since 2014 from 32% to 24%.

England no longer the binge drinking capital of Europe

We are also thrilled to say that England is no longer in the top rank of the youth drinking or binge drinking league in Europe, however the same cannot be said for Wales and Scotland. We are so pleased therefore that we have extended our outreach for young people, parents, schools and youth settings in Scotland now, and hopefully Wales will follow. We cannot say for certain that it is the impact of Talk About Alcohol being used in over half of secondary schools in England, that has led such a decline in regular drinking and drunkenness ( led by Denmark, Germany, Scotland and Wales) but as the most widely used programme and with few other differences between the Nations it is highly likely in the light of the impact ratings of the evaluation of our work. To learn more: