English kids among world’s biggest child boozers

Christine Humphreys
by Christine Humphreys
Published: April 26, 2024
Young people drinking alcohol
Schoolchildren in England are among the biggest alcohol drinkers in the world in their age group.
A global study of controlled substance usage among 11 to 15-year olds found that 35% reported drinking alcohol at some stage in their lives and 20% had downed booze in the last 30 days.
Among 11-year-olds, 18% of boys and 13% of girls reported drinking alcohol in their lifetime while England had the highest prevalence at 35% for boys and 34% for girls.
By age 13, half of English boys and 57% of girls had tried alcohol. More than a third of 13-year-old English girls admitted drinking in the previous 30 days ranking top of the world’s teenage drinkers.

Global Study

More than 4,000 children in England, and about 4,000 in Scotland and Wales were quizzed as part of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) project involving 280,000 children from 44 countries between 2021 and 2022.
The research for the World Health Organisation was coordinated by Dr Jo Inchley of the University of Glasgow.
The study aims to provide insights into the health and well-being of adolescents across Europe, central Asia and Canada and looked at smoking and vaping habits as well as alcohol use.
In a preface to the report Dr Inchley expressed concern about the trends.
She said: “While substance use remains generally higher among boys than girls at age 11, there is emerging evidence of increasing gender convergence from age 13 onwards, with girls now reporting similar or higher levels of cigarette smoking and alcohol use than boys in many countries and regions.
“Of particular concern is evidence that alcohol use may be increasing again among girls in some countries and regions.”

Calls for change

Dr Hans Klug, WHO Regional Director for Europe, called for action to address the ‘attractiveness’ of controlled substances to children.
He said: “Substance use remains a crucial public health problem among adolescents. It is a vital area for young people’s health, well-being and life prospects.
“The consequences are costly for them and society, and can lead to physical and mental illness, educational underachievement and diminished life chances in adulthood.
“The report’s findings highlight the need for countries and regions to strengthen evidence-based universal and targeted initiatives aimed at prevention and supporting young people who already are using substances, with greater efforts made to reduce the attractiveness of substance use to young people.” 
Christine Humphreys

About The Author

Christine Humphreys
Chris Humphreys is the co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and She was a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.