Teens put in hospital by drink: Figures much worse than in UK

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On average, Islanders drink a fifth more than UK residents, while almost a quarter of Jersey adults reported last year drinking alcohol at a level considered hazardous or harmful to their health, a report published yesterday shows.

Dr Susan Turnbull, Jersey’s Medical Officer of Health, said one of the concerning aspects of the 2018 Jersey Alcohol Profile was the fact a ‘significantly’ higher proportion of Islanders under 18 – particularly teenage girls – were being hospitalised compared to their English peers.

And she has also said it was worrying that a third of women of child-bearing age were drinking at hazardous levels, as she said exposure of a foetus to alcohol could cause brain damage and had also been linked to autism and behavioural issues such as ADHD.

However, Dr Turnbull believes that price increases as well as further education about the health issues excessive alcohol can lead to, such as liver disease and increasing the risk of certain cancers such as breast, oesophageal and bowel, could help curb the trend.

According to the figures, between 2014 and 2016 there were 45 admissions, relating to 40 Islanders, to hospital of under-18s for an alcohol-specific condition.

This is the equivalent of 100 admissions per 100,000 Island females and 58 admissions per 100,000 Island males.

In comparison, the figures in England are ‘significantly lower’, at 41.3 and 27.4 respectively.

‘People think when you start talking about the harm of alcohol, it is the nanny state speaking,’ Dr Turnbull said. ‘But look at the number of under-18 women who end up in hospital if you need more evidence of harm.

‘What surprises me is so many young people nowadays are savvy about healthy eating and how much meat and fats they have in their diet but at the same time they are drinking toxic levels of alcohol – they are undoing the good work.’

The report also reveals that alcohol-specific hospital admissions for adults are also higher than England’s – the most up-to-date figures show that in 2017 there were 900 admissions per 100,000 in Jersey, compared to 563 in England.

In 2018 the average annual alcohol consumption per Islander aged 15 or over was 11.8 litres of pure alcohol – the equivalent of about eight strong pints of beer or 2½ bottles of wine per week.

Although this is a drop of 4.7 litres since 2000, the amount Islanders drink has remained fairly constant in the past three years.

And figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2017 show that Jersey has one of the highest average alcohol consumptions per capita in the world.

The OECD figures show that Lithuania topped the table of 44 countries for highest alcohol consumption per capita, with adults over the age of 15 drinking on average 13.2 litres of pure alcohol annually. Joint second on the list – which did not feature Jersey – were France and the Czech Republic, which had 11.7 litres of alcohol per capita.

Dr Turnbull attributed the high level of alcohol consumption in Jersey to a culture dating back to the time when duty on alcohol sold in the Island was low.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that drink played a role in 14 per cent of all crimes recorded in the Island last year, with one in three serious assaults involving alcohol.

A breakdown of the figures show that of the 1,170 domestic crimes recorded between 2016 and 2018, 33 per cent involved alcohol.

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