Majority of Danes want to curb drinking culture

Losing weight, exercising more and drinking less are standards on many people’s lists of New Year’s resolutions. But as Danes get ready to ring in 2015, that last item may be even more popular than usual.

Majority of Danes want to curb drinking culture
Ahead of one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, a majority of Danes said people should drink less. Photo: Colourbox
A majority of Danes think it’s time to curb the notorious drinking culture in Denmark, a country whose teenagers are found to consistently outdrink their European counterparts.
In a survey for Blue Cross Denmark, six out of ten respondents said that Danes should both drink less and change the way they consume alcohol. 
Blue Cross’s secretary-general, Christian Bjerre, welcomed the results as a sign that Danes might change their approach to alcohol and focus on quality rather than quantity. 
“In Denmark, you can get the feeling that you can only have fun with large amounts of alcohol. In southern Europe, there is a different approach where one drinks alcohol in moderation and looks negatively upon being drunk,” he told Ritzau. 
But at Aarhus University’s Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, the poll results were greeted more sceptically. 
“If you ask a general question about whether people should reduce their consumption, most will answer yes. But if you instead ask whether they think they should reduce their own personal consumption, then the answer is quite different,” researcher Karen Elmeland told Ritzau. 
Elmeland said she couldn’t foresee Danes abandoning their drinking culture outright.
“Since the 1960s, we’ve had a blended culture in which we both drink until we are drunk and at other times drink in moderation,” she said. 
She added that Danes’ drinking has fallen since the 1990s, when every Dane over the age of 14 drank an average of more than 12 litres of pure alcohol each year. That number is now at an average of 11.1 litres.  

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Danish 15-year-olds drink most alcohol in Europe

Danish 15-year-olds drink more frequently and are more likely to have been drunk than those from any other country in Europe, according to a new study by the World Health Organisation.

A reveller at the Roskilde Festival in 2014. Photo: David Leth Williams/Ritzau Scanpix
According to the report, 82 percent of Danish 15-year-olds have tried alcohol, compared to 59 percent on average over Europe as a whole. 
At the same time, 65 percent of Danish 15-year-olds said they had drunk alcohol in the preceding month, and 42 percent said they had been drunk at least once. That is roughly twice as many as on average in Europe. 
The study, which is carried out every fifth year, surveys 227,000 European school pupils aged, 11, 13, and 15. 
“The worrying story is that we had had some improvement in the alcohol data, but over the last four years, we have seen some tendencies in the wrong direction and that is probably why we are staying in the very bad end,” said Mette Rasmussen, who led the Danish part of the project at Denmark's National Institute of Public Health. 
“We have a social alcohol drinking culture in Denmark. Alcohol is a key thing in being together, when we meet with friends and go to parties, and that actually goes for both adults and adolescents,” she said. “At the same time we drink a lot, we binge drink.” 
She said that Denmark was also unusual in Europe for allowing those as young as 16 to buy alcohol, and in having relatively low prices for alcohol, compared to its Nordic neighbours at least. 
The Danish Institute of Public Health drew attention to the study, in a press release posted to its website.