Home / Health / England child alcohol use tops global chart, finds WHO report

England child alcohol use tops global chart, finds WHO report

A third of 11-year-olds and more than half of 13-year-olds in England have drunk alcohol – putting it top out of 44 countries examined in a report by global health experts.

Girls were found to be more likely than boys to be drinking and getting drunk aged 15 in England, Wales and Scotland.

The World Health Organization (WHO) report said alcohol, which can damage children’s brains, has been normalised.

It called on countries to introduce more measures to protect children.

The report looked at data from about 4,500 school-age children from each country in Europe, central Asia and Canada in 2021-22 on cigarette smoking, vaping, alcohol and cannabis habits among adolescents.

The UK has always had relatively high alcohol use among young people but it has been declining for some time.

Study coordinator Dr Jo Inchley, from Glasgow University, said signs that more children were starting to drink at a young age was “concerning”.

“Trying substances is part of growing up and experimenting but alcohol has long-term effects on health,” she said.

Dr Inchley said being exposed to more alcohol at home, changing attitudes of parents and the rebound effects after Covid lockdown could all be factors in the trend.

Research shows the earlier children start drinking, the more serious a problem it can become when they are older.

At age 13, the report found 12% of girls and 9% of boys in England had been drunk at least twice in their lives.

At 15, that had risen to a third of girls and a quarter of boys. More than a half of girls said they had drunk alcohol in the past 30 days.