2018-07-03Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.25646/5616
Tobacco and alcohol use among 11- to 17-year-olds in Germany. Results of the cross-sectional KiGGS Wave 2 study and trends
Tobacco and alcohol use are among the leading preventable risk factors associated with premature mortality and a variety of diseases that have long-term effects. Although tobacco and alcohol use among adults is widespread in Germany, there is a trend towards lower levels of consumption. The foundations for health-related behaviour in adulthood are set at an early age: young people who use alcohol and tobacco also tend to do so regularly when they reach adulthood. With this in mind, health policies should focus on preventing young people from smoking, and encouraging them to adopt a responsible, low-risk approach to alcohol. This article analyses patterns of tobacco and alcohol use among children and adolescents (aged between 11 and 17 years). It describes the prevalences of tobacco and alcohol use, as well as trends and correlates. The data used in this article was sourced from the second follow-up to the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS Wave 2). The survey’s results show that 7.2% of 11- to 17-year-old children and adolescents smoke at least occasionally, with 3.7% doing so daily. The survey also demonstrates that a good half (51.0%) of 11- to 17-year-olds have ever drunk alcohol; at-risk drinking was prevalent among 12.1%, and heavy episodic drinking among 7.0%. The consumption of tobacco and alcohol increases considerably with age. Patterns of at-risk drinking and heavy episodic drinking show gender-associated differences: While more girls than boys practice at-risk drinking, more boys than girls practice heavy episodic drinking. Nevertheless, the KiGGS survey waves demonstrate a highly significant trend towards a decline in tobacco use (KiGGS baseline study 21.4%, KiGGS Wave 1 12.4%). The proportion of 11- to 17-year-olds who have ever drunk alcohol is also declining (KiGGS baseline study 63.9%, KiGGS Wave 1 55.6%). The proportions of at-risk drinking (KiGGS Wave 1 16.5%) and heavy episodic drinking (KiGGS Wave 1 12.0%) decreased as well. The results presented here are in line with findings from other studies that have surveyed adolescent tobacco and alcohol use in Germany, and they underscore the success of preventive measures.
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