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SHEU alcohol data: beer and young people, children, school surveys

SHEU : nationally-recognised, since 1977,
as the specialist provider of reliable local survey data for schools and colleges

Young people, beer and lager

The Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) has been talking to young people, about their health and wellbeing, since 1977. The results, from the Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire (HRBQ), are used by local authorities to inform their planning. Over one million young people have responded to the HRBQ. Among the topics that are explored in the surveys is the use of alcohol. In this Byte, the focus is on the consumption of alcoholic drinks and in particular beer and lager. Questions from SHEU about drinking alcohol have been asked in schools since the early 1980s.

Table 1 (below) shows results from over 22,000 12-15 year olds in 2010 who replied to the question, “During the last 7 days, how many pints of beer or lager have you drunk?"


The consumption of beer or lager is much greater in the 14-15 year olds, and males in particular, although, in 2010, 13% of older females reported drinking it ‘in the last 7 days’. It is worthwhile pointing out that, in the response to this question in 2010, 88%-96% of over 10,000 12-13 year olds and 70%-87% of over 11,000 14-15 year olds reported consuming no beer or lager ‘in the last 7 days’.

Chart 1 (below) shows results, 1983-2011, from 10-15 year olds who reported drinking beer or lager ‘in the last 7 days’. A declining trend in reported consumption of beer or lager can be seen. The SHEU data are derived from local and not national surveys. This compilation of results shares some characteristics seen in nationally sampled surveys including the ‘peaking’ of consumption around 1995.

Chart 1. 10-15 year olds who reported drinking beer or lager ‘in the last 7 days’, 1983-2011


The above is an extract - to read the complete report click here (beer and lager pdf)




Comments about SHEU

At the time, the results were very useful and the feedback report very useful and insightful. Significant changes will occur in our schools health and wellbeing provision next year and conducting another survey will certainly help me to ensure I am planning effectively for the needs of our pupils.

Head of Health and Wellbeing

"Please send an additional copy of our report - it is the most requested and borrowed item in the whole library." Health Promotion Unit

Health Promotion Unit

Thank you for following up with schools the comments that caused concern. It is very sad to hear that some of our children have these thoughts and feelings and I am so grateful that you were able to make the schools aware of this so that they can attempt to offer some support.

This is another reason why I am so pleased that we have been able to work with you to offer this survey.

Health and Wellbeing Adviser

"Thanks for presenting the survey to local schools this morning, I just wanted to thank you for such interesting and thought-provoking information.  
I’m really glad we were able to take part - the information (particularly headline data and differences) will support us to have some really interesting questions with the Year group as a whole about the sense they’re making of this; what they think it might mean in terms of changes they might make, and what they need to support them in this."

Deputy Headteacher

"You have made a fantastic contribution to children’s health education and promotion. I am personally grateful to you for helping to kickstart my research career." Prof. Neil Armstrong tribute to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Prof Neil Armstrong

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." Tribute from OFSTED to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005


...our analyst here in Public Health- is beside himself with excitement about all the juicy data pouring in...he can't wait to get his hands on it!!!!
He is happier than I have seen him for years.

Public Health Principal

"One year (following the SHEU survey) responses from our Year 4 cohort caused us concern, so we put in place a number of team building, motivational projects. We then assessed their effectiveness by requesting the SHEU questionnaires for these pupils as Year 5's."

Learning Mentor

"The credit goes to you for the fabulous information the survey yields!"

Assistant Director Schools and SEN

"...the most comprehensive health education survey."

Daily Telegraph