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PARIS — Alcohol consumption in wealthy, developed countries has declined in the past two decades, but dangerous binge drinking has increased among the young, said a study released Tuesday.

The 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says average annual alcohol consumption in its member countries has fallen 2.5 percent over the past 20 years to 2.4 gallons of pure alcohol per capita.

That overall trend hides a dangerous increase in hazardous drinking by young people, the group says, as measured by both the amount and the rate that alcohol is consumed.

The group warned that such drinking is a ''major public health and social concern,'' with children taking up drinking at increasingly earlier ages. Harmful consumption of alcohol now accounts for a higher proportion of deaths worldwide than HIV, AIDS, violence, and tuberculosis combined, the report said.


Among boys ages 15 and younger, the proportion who have been drunk rose to 43 percent from 30 percent during the 2000s; for girls the share rose to 41 percent from 26 percent, the group said.

Associated Press