This site is intended for health professionals only

One in ten pupils drink alcohol

New fears have been raised about children's health as a study shows one in 10 youngsters regularly drink alcohol while in their last year of primary school.

The report from the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) also found that by the age of 12 or 13, the figure has doubled, with nearly one in five classed as "drinkers".

Studies have shown that drinking from an early age increases the risk of alcohol abuse in later life, and increases the incidence of obesity and liver damage.

The research looked at more than 68,000 pupils aged 10 to 15, and also found underage girls are more likely to get drunk than boys.

Nearly one in four 14-15 year old girls said they had got drunk "during the last seven days", compared with one in five boys of the same age.

Shadow children's secretary Michael Gove said the data is "profoundly worrying".

He added: "Children are drinking more and they're drinking younger.

"Young people who abuse alcohol are damaging their health and squandering their own futures."

But a Department of Health spokesman said: "Action by Government to tackle underage drinking has led to targeted enforcement reducing the number of sales to under-18s by bars, off-licences and other retailers.

"Education on substance misuse, including alcohol, now has a higher profile in schools across the country and is part of the national curriculum."

Schools Health Education Unit

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I have been involved with teenage boys through my own childrens education and activities.  Many of them drink and smoke regularly. This is a poignant poem written by one of the boys" - Name and address supplied

The states that we get in
Are they worth regretting?
Half the time I forget them
They don't teach me a lesson
Does it hide our depression?
Slow progression, no exception
It will hurt you tomorrow
The curse of the bottle

Take part in our three minute visitors' survey for the chance to win £25 worth of M&S vouchers!