More than a quarter of under-25s count themselves as “non drinkers”, a new study reveals.
The research, conducted by University College London, claims abstaining from alcohol is becoming “more mainstream” among people in England aged 16-24.
Researchers studied data on almost 10,000 youngsters, collected via the annual Health Survey for England.
They found that the proportion of 16-24-year-olds who do not drink alcohol has increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.
Meanwhile, the proportion of “lifetime abstainers” rose from 9% in 2005 to 17% a decade later.
The study also appeared to show that fewer youngsters were drinking harmful amounts as in 2005. Two in five (43%) admitted drinking above the recommended limits, but this fell to just 28% 10 years later.
Binge drinking rates also decreased from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2015.
However, the increased rates in non-drinking were not observed among smokers, ethnic minorities and those with poor mental health.
Dr Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study, said: “Increases in non-drinking among young people were found across a broad range of groups, including those living in northern or southern regions of England, among the white population, those in full-time education, in employment and across all social classes and healthier groups.
“That the increase in non-drinking was found across many different groups suggests that non-drinking may becoming more mainstream among young people which could be caused by cultural factors.”
She added: “The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised.”