A new study has found clear patterns of alcohol use amongst different age groups from 15 years old up to old age. The study found it was necessary to reveal alcohol consumption changes within the same individuals as they age and found such studies are scarce. The overall findings concluded that alcohol consumption peaks around 25 years old and slowly declines with growing age.
The data collected was from over a 34 year period and studied changes in three cohorts which were born 20 years apart (1930s, 1950s and 1970s). From these cohorts data was collected from ages 15 to 37, 35 to 56 and 55 to 76 years.
The study found alcohol consumption rises during adolescence and peaks around the age of 25 for both men and women. During this peak men on average drink 20 units per week while women drink 7 to 8 units per week on average. The study also found that drinking plateaued during mid-life, declining around 60 years. Frequent drinking is more common in middle age, especially amongst men whilst women are more likely to only drink monthly or on special occasions.
The study was a first attempt at analysing longitudinal data on alcohol consumption and highlights the importance of recognising that this behaviour is dynamic. The findings are in agreement with other individual studies on drinking behaviour which show alcohol consumption decreases with age. Estimating patterns in alcohol consumption can ultimately be used to identify associated harm. Such information can be used to influence alcohol policy and future research into alcohol consumption and associated health issues.