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Medicina (Kaunas). 2008;44(8):623-32.

Trends in alcohol consumption among Lithuanian school-aged children in 1994-2006 and new challenges.

[Article in English, Lithuanian]

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Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu 4, 50009 Kaunas, Lithuania.


Alcohol abuse is considered one of the most important risk-taking behaviors among young people in the world. This paper presents the results of the WHO collaborative cross-national study on Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) carried out in Lithuania and other European countries also in USA, Canada, and Israel in 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006.


The aim of this study was to analyze features and trends in alcohol consumption among the samples of 11-, 13-, and 15-year-old adolescents (school-aged children) in Lithuania during 1994-2006.


Representative samples of 5428, 4513, 5645, and 5632 respondents aged 11, 13, and 15 years were included into school-based questionnaire surveys in 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006, respectively. The standardized research methods were applied. The students have filled in the questionnaires anonymously in the classroom according to the methodology of international HBSC study. The students were asked about lifestyle habits, alcohol consumption, and episodes of drunkenness.


The number of students who had been drunk two or more times has increased by 2.5 times (from 9.8%. to 25.6%) during 1994-2006. A significant increase in alcohol consumption was observed among 15-year-old girls - the percentage of girls who have reported alcohol consumption almost approached the percentage of boys (50.3% and 56.8%, respectively; P=0.006). The reported mean age of the onset of first drinking had shifted by 2 years towards younger age during the period of 1994-2006. The comparison of data from 37 countries, participating in this cross-national study, revealed that the prevalence of alcohol consumption among Lithuanian school children is one of the highest (29.0% of boys and 22.1% of girls) and was in the second worst position on a rating scale when comparing with other 36 countries involved in HBSC study. The results suggest that increased use of light alcoholic beverages can cause an increase in the number of drinking teenagers. Ready-to-drink beverages ("alcopops") at least once per week were used by 15.3% of boys and 17.5% of girls (P=0.216); beer - 16.9% of boys and 5.6% of girls (P<0.001).


A significant shift of the onset of drinking alcohol towards younger age was observed in Lithuania during 1994-2006. In recent years, Lithuanian students as compared to peers from other countries are among those who consume alcohol most frequently.

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