British teenagers drink alcohol more than anywhere else in the world, survey finds

By Staff 5 Min Read

A World Health Organisation report found that British children in Britain consume alcohol more than any other country in the world, with girls drinking, smoking and vaping more than boys

British children in Britain drink more alcohol than youngsters in any other country, a survey found.

The World Health Organisation report also shows UK girls drink, smoke and vape more than boys. Among 15-year-olds in the UK, over half of girls and around two-fifths of boys had drunk alcohol in the past 30 days.

England had the highest rates of 11 to 13-year-olds who had tried alcohol. The decline in smoking over the past few decades has stalled, and there is evidence of a small increase in alcohol use among 15-year-old girls in England since 2018.

By the age of 11, England tops the global chart for boozing, with 34% of girls and 35% of boys saying they have drunk alcohol. By 13, that rises to 57% of girls and 50% of boys.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “The use of harmful substances among children is a serious public health threat.

“Considering that the brain con­­tinues to develop well into a person’s mid-20s, adolescents need to be protected from the effects of toxic and dangerous products.”

Dr Katherine Severi, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said youth drinking is in decline overall, but added: “The UK is one of the ­heaviest drinking nations in the world and it’s clearly concerning.

“People have this perception that introducing children to moderate drinking is a good way of teaching safer drinking habits. This is untrue.”

Dr Jo Inchley, of Glasgow University, WHO co-ordinator for the study, said: “We’re seeing really high levels of early initiation into drinking. Why that’s much higher than other countries is certainly something we need to look at.”

Matt Lambert, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents the alcohol industry, said: “UK Government data shows continuing falls in underage drinking, with drives such as Challenge 25 having paved the way to prevent under-18s purchasing alcohol in shops and bars.”

The WHO surveyed 280,000 children from 44 countries, with more than 8,000 from Britain. A Government spokesman said: “Our Tobacco and Vapes Bill will make it an offence to sell tobacco to anyone born after January 1, 2009, and includes powers to limit flavours, packaging and displays of vapes.”

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