Young People in the U.K. Are Now Markedly Less Drunk

There's a certain stereotype about the young people of the United Kingdom, and that is that they are perpetually blotto. Drunk as a skunk. Like, seven sheets to to the wind. Wild enough that the binge-drinkingest American college kid stands back and says, "Damn, buddy, you have got a problem."

But it turns out that young people in the U.K. are throttling back—at least a little bit.

That's according to the BBC. Stats from the National Heath Service say the percentage of 11 to 15-year-olds who'd drunk alcohol in the last week dropped from 26 percent to 12 percent between 2001 and 2011, and the percentage who'd ever had a drink dropped from 61 to 45 percent. Between 1998 and 2010, the percentage of 16 to 26-year-olds who'd had a drink that week dropped from 71 percent to 48 percent.

There are a variety of reasons for this, from harsher enforcement of underaged drinking rules to growth in the Muslim population to the fact that education costs more. But the BBC points to one interesting factor in particular. Maybe kids have just spent their whole lives watching adults get pissed:

"It's the mindset the media has that every 18-year-old goes out and gets drunk. Maybe people in the previous generation did. But nowadays, most people would go out to hang out."

It was the sight of intoxicated older people that helped put Liam, from Dagenham, east London, off drinking for life. One occasion when he had to put his parents' inebriated friends to bed convinced him that "there is no pretty drunk".

A columnist at the Spectator dubbed this the "Ab Fab Effect," after the television show. "To watch Ab Fab now is to see 21st-century Britain being sent up before it really emerged," argues Fraser Nelson. "Eddy and Patsy's guiding philosophy — 'try everything once' — is fast going out of fashion," he adds.

Maybe this is actually just viral marketing for the Absolutely Fabulous movie they're finally making, which Jennifer Saunders just confirmed?

Image via BBC