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Underage Drinking, Prevalence and Predictors in India: Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Data
Authors: Vishal Tikhute
Source: Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, DOI:10.1080/10911359.2024.2336109.
Topic(s): Alcohol consumption
Child health
Country: Asia
Published: MAR 2024
Abstract: Underage drinking is a high-risk behavior associated with adverse health consequences among children and youth. Globally, underage drinking is the leading cause of social crimes, disability, and premature accidental and suicidal deaths among the young population. Despite leading to serious health and social problems, it has been a scarcely studied issue in India. This study assessed the prevalence and socio-economic predictors of underage drinking in India using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2021 data from 306,929 individuals in the age group of 15–20?years. Analyzing these data, the prevalence of underage drinking was assessed, and regression analysis was undertaken to identify the significant predictors of underage drinking in India. The population prevalence of underage drinking in India was 2%. Age, sex, education, marital status, family structure, house type, religion, social category, wealth index, place of residence, region, and tobacco use were the statistically significant predictors of underage drinking. Despite restrictions on the purchase and consumption of alcohol by the underage population, the prevalence is high in most of the Indian states and varies across individual, behavioral, familial, socio-economic, and demographic factors. There is a pressing need to delay the minimum legal drinking age, establish uniform criteria for age restrictions across India, enforce age restrictions, and create awareness about the harms of underage drinking in India.