More than four in every five persons aged 12 years or older occasionally drink alcohol. The amount of drinkers has been stable for years. Over one in ten persons drink six glasses of alcohol or more at least once a week. The proportion of heavy drinkers had somewhat declined in 2004 compared to the late 1990s. Heavy drinking is most commonly found among young males.
More than seven glasses a week
In 2004 the average alcohol intake per capita in the Netherlands was 7.7 glasses a week, the rate for 2001 was 8.3 glasses. More men than women drink alcohol. Male heavy drinkers outnumber their female counterparts by a four to one ratio.
(Heavy) drinking by gender, 1997–2004
Most heavy drinkers are young
Almost 40 percent of men in the18–24 age bracket are heavy drinkers. These men average almost 14 glasses a week; over 70 percent is consumed during weekends.
Most female heavy drinkers are also found in the 18–24 age bracket. One in ten women aged between 18 and 24 are heavy drinkers. They average 5 glasses a week; approximately 80 percent is consumed during weekends.
(Heavy) drinking by age (men), 2003/2004
As many girls as boys
Heavy drinkers are also found in the 12–17 age category. More than one in every twenty boys and nearly one in every twenty girls in this age category are heavy drinkers. Obviously, young girls measure up to boys’ drinking levels.
(Heavy) drinking by age (women), 2003/2004
Downward trend in young men
From the late 1990s, the proportion of young male heavy drinkers has diminished. The decrease is stronger among males in the 12–17 age bracket than among 18–24 year-olds. The amount of heavy drinking men also declined in the 35–44 age group.
In 2003/2004 the amount of female heavy drinkers only marginally declined among 18–24 year-olds. No decrease was recorded in the other age groups.
Heavy drinking among young men and women
Ferdy Otten and Frans Frenken