Young adults from Manchester and Merseyside are heaviest teen drinkers in Europe, finds study of 26 cities
55% of young teenagers in Merseyside and 50% of those in Greater Manchester drank heavily compared to the EU city average of 33%However Mancunians ate
considerably more fruit and vegetables than EU average while Liverpudlians smoked less

By
Claire Bates

PUBLISHED:

16:39 GMT, 17 September 2012

|

UPDATED:

16:45 GMT, 17 September 2012

Too much, too young: Teenage heavy drinking rates are high in the north of England

Too much, too young: Teenage heavy drinking rates are high in the north of England

Teenagers living in the north of England are among the heaviest underage drinkers in Europe, according to a study of 26 European cities.

The extensive EU survey found Merseyside had the highest proportion of heavy drinkers, with 55 per cent of 14 to 16 year-olds downing large amounts of alcohol.

Greater Manchester wasn't far behind with half of those surveyed labelled binge-drinkers. This compared to a European average of 33 per cent, while the lowest rate was 16 per cent recorded in Tetova, Albania.

The rate of youths drinking before the age of 13 was 61 per cent in the two English cities. However, while a number of cities had higher levels such as Bordeaux in France (68%) and Bratislava in Slovakia (62%) they did not have similarly high levels of heavy youth drinking. Just 39 per cent of youth in Bordeaux and 28 per cent in Bratislava were classed as heavy drinkers.

It wasn't all bad news for Manchester though: Mancunians ate
considerably more fruit and vegetables than the average Euro-26 city;
they had more green spaces to enjoy, and ate breakfast more frequently
than their European counterparts. Meanwhile Liverpudlians smoked less than the
European average.

The survey, which compared health, life expectancy and lifestyles, included five British urban centres in total. Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow were the other cities analysed.

Death from respiratory disease in Birmingham was substantially higher
than the Euro-26 average, although the incidence of male cancers was
significantly lower. Heavy drinking and smoking among young Brummies was
also well below the average.

In Cardiff, male cancers and deaths among women from circulatory diseases were much lower than in the other European cities studied, but depression and anxiety among adults in the Welsh capital, as well as binge drinking, were higher than the average.

Mortality from cancers and respiratory diseases were seen as key concerns in Scotland's largest conurbation, but drinking and smoking among young Glaswegians was on par with the average.

The pan-European study, led in the UK by the Universities of Manchester
and Liverpool, identified key priority areas for each city studied that
the researchers hope policymakers will address.

Youth health status for Merseyside: The area had the highest rate of heavy episodic drinking, as well as regular tooth brushing

Youth health status for Merseyside: The area had the highest rate of heavy episodic drinking, as well as regular tooth brushing

Project coordinator Dr Arpana Verma, from The University of Manchester,
said: 'The gap between the rich and poor living in urban areas across
the world is widening. The urban poor are now worse off than the rural
poor.

'Health inequalities are a greater issue than ever before and it's
becoming increasingly important for policymakers to take the valuable
information that we have to offer and translate into policies that can
help improve our health.

'By highlighting these
differences, we can learn from each other to make our cities healthier,
and empower the citizens of Europe.'

Dr Christopher Birt, from the University of Liverpool, added: 'Policy makers and researchers
need to work together, with the best evidence, to reduce inequalities
and improve health.'

The study, known as the European Urban Health Indicator System (EURO-URHIS 2) project, compared Amsterdam, Birmingham, Bistrita, Bordeaux, Bratislava, Cardiff, Craiova, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Iasi, Kaunas, Koln, Kosice, Liepaja, Ljubljana, Maribor, Merseyside, Montpellier, Oberhausen, Oslo, Riga, Siauliai, Skopje, Tetova, Tromso and Utrecht.