Irish girls ranked among top binge drinkers by global study

Teenage females had a higher rate of binge drinking than boys, a Lancet study found

Lancet study: Irish teenage girls had a higher rate of binge drinking than boys. File photograph: Getty

Irish teenagers have been ranked among the highest binge drinkers in the world, by a new global study of adolescent health.

Irish teenage girls ranked third in the global table of the worst binge drinkers, behind Denmark, and Finland. All three countries received ‘red’ health grades in the area, where the prevalence of binge drinking was found to be higher than 55 per cent among the adolescent population.

The study, published by The Lancet on Wednesday, found the prevalence of binge drinking was higher among Irish teenage girls than boys. However Irish teenage boys also received a red grade in the area, ranking among the highest binge drinkers compared to other countries.

Over 70 per cent of teenage girls in Denmark reported binge drinking in the last twelve months, compared to 65 per cent in Finland, and 61 per cent of Irish teenage girls.


Irish teenage girls also had a higher prevalence of smoking than teenage boys, at 13 per cent of those studied, compared to 12 per cent of boys.

Teenage girls in Greenland topped the table for the prevalence of smoking, at nearly a third of adolescents, followed by over quarter of teens in Bulgaria, then Chile, and Croatia.


The study tracked teenagers’ health across a number of indicators, from 195 countries, between 1990 and 2016. The research found the number of obese teenagers had more than doubled over the two and a half decade period.

In 2016, nearly one in five teenagers in the world were overweight or obese, the study said. Researchers said this rise was not down to broader population increases, but the growing prevalence of obesity among teenagers.

Irish adolescent boys had a higher prevalence of being obese or overweight, compared to girls. Irish boys had a recorded rate of being overweight or obese of 32 per cent, compared to 23 per cent of girls, the study said.

The number of teenagers who reported binge drinking saw a small increase between 1990 and 2016. Some 71 million adolescents (aged between 15 and 19 years of age) reported binge drinking in 2016, which broke down to 44m teenage boys, and 27m girls. This was up from 41m boys and 26m girls in 1990, the study said.

In total 24 academics worked on the major study, which was titled ‘Progress in Adolescent Health and Wellbeing: Tracking 12 Headline Indicators for 195 Countries and Territories, 1990-2016.’

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times