Patterns of alcohol use and multiple risk behaviour by gender during early and late adolescence: the ALSPAC cohort

J Public Health (Oxf). 2012 Mar;34 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):i20-30. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fds006.


Background: Adolescent risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol use and antisocial behaviour are associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Patterns of risk behaviour may vary between genders during adolescence.

Methods: Analysis of data from a longitudinal birth cohort to assess the prevalence and distribution of multiple risk behaviours by gender at age 15-16 years with a focus on alcohol use at age 10, 13 and 15 years.

Results: By age 15 years, over half of boys and girls had consumed alcohol and one-fifth had engaged in binge drinking with no clear difference by gender. At age 15-16 years, the most prevalent risk behaviours were physical inactivity (74%), antisocial and criminal behaviour (42%) and hazardous drinking (34%). Boys and girls engaged in a similar number of behaviours but antisocial and criminal behaviours, cannabis use and vehicle-related risk behaviours were more prevalent among boys, whilst tobacco smoking, self-harm and physical inactivity were more prevalent among girls.

Conclusion: Multiple risk behaviour is prevalent in both genders during adolescence but the pattern of individual risk behaviour varies between boys and girls. Effective interventions at the individual, family, school, community or population level are needed to address gender-specific patterns of risk behaviour during adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data