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British girls are named among heaviest binge-drinkers in Europe, WHO study finds

Teenage girls in the UK are some of the worst binge-drinkers in Europe, research shows.

England, Wales and Scotland were placed in three of the top six places in a drinking league table of 36 European nations for adolescent girls.

It comes despite binge-drinking rates among British youngsters dipping in recent years. Girls were also more likely to drink heavily than boys. 

British girls are among the worst binge-drinkers in Europe, a study has shown (stock image)

University of St Andrews scientists compared the alcohol intake of 15-year-old girls and boys between 2002 and 2014. 

They found in most European nations, including Britain, the number of teenagers who had been drunk on at least two occasions had fallen.

But teenage girls in the UK remained some of the heaviest drinkers across the continent, according to the data featured in the World Health Organization report.

More than half of English teenage girls (54.7 per cent) had got drunk at least twice when figures were first recorded in 2002.

However, this dropped to 30.9 per cent in 2014, meaning England has only dropped one place from when it ranked fifth more than a decade ago.   

Wales (33.6 per cent) has remained in second place – despite the percentage of 15 year old girls who admitted being drunk at least twice having almost halved.

But Scotland (32.9 per cent) has jumped up from fifth to fourth.   

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, told the Daily Telegraph drinking habits among young women could be affected by rising anxiety levels (stock image)

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, told the Daily Telegraph drinking habits among young women could be affected by rising anxiety levels (stock image)

In contrast, only Scotland (32.4 per cent) were named in the top 10 for boys. Wales ranked 13th and England placed 18th.

England (25.3 per cent) dropped from sixth place in 2002 and Wales (28.2 per cent) plummeted from third place. 

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, told the Daily Telegraph drinking habits among young women could be affected by rising anxiety levels.

Denmark placed top of the table for binge-drinking among teenage girls, with 37.6 per cent of 15 year olds having admitted to being drunk twice.

While Hungary scored the worst for boys. Some 41.2 per cent of 15 year olds said they had been drunk at least twice in their lives in the country. 

Dr Jo Inchley, lead editor of the report, said: ‘Overall reductions in harmful drinking have been greatest in countries that traditionally have had higher prevalence, such as Great Britain and the Nordic region.

‘This makes it clear that change is possible; however, more should be done to ensure that adolescents are effectively protected from the harms caused by alcohol.’

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, regional director for WHO Europe, said: ‘Young people are regular drinkers at an age where they should not be drinking at all.

‘As we know that any alcohol consumption at this critical developmental stage in life is especially harmful, policy-makers have a responsibility to implement the measures we know are effective, such as limiting access, enforcing age checks and restricting any type of alcohol marketing, including digital marketing.’

Karen Tyrell, executive director at drug and alcohol charity Addaction said: ‘It’s great that young people are drinking less but it doesn’t mean they’re thriving.’

She added: ‘Other warning lights are flashing and we need to pay attention to growing problems like self-harm, substances, and poor mental health.

‘In many areas it’s harder than ever for young people to get help. There are fewer places to turn and the help that’s there often isn’t good enough.’ 

WHERE IN EUROPE ARE THE MOST TEENAGE BINGE-DRINKERS? 
Rank (GIRLS) Country % drunk 2+ times in their lives Rank (BOYS) Country % drunk 2+ times in their lives
1 Denmark 37.6 1 Hungary 41.2
2 Wales 33.6 2 Lithuania 40.6
3 Hungary 33.5 3 Croatia 39.9
4 Scotland 32.9 4 Denmark 39
5 Lithuania 32.7 5 Slovenia 32.6
6 England 30.9 6 Scotland 32.4
7 Estonia 29.3 7 Finland 32.2
8 Czechia 28.6 8 Czechia 31.5
9 Slovenia 28.3 9 Estonia 30.9
10 Malta 27.9 10 Latvia 30.5
11 Finland 27.4 11 Romania 29.9
12 Poland 25.9 12 Slovakia 29.1
13 Slovakia 25.8 13 Wales 28.2
14 Latvia 25.6 14 Austria 27.3
15 Croatia 23.8 15 Malta 26.3
16 Germany 22.9 16 Germany 26.1
17 Spain 20.9 17 Poland 25.8
18 Greece 20.6 18 England 25.3
19 Austria 19.6 19 Belgium (French) 22.8
20 Norway 19 20 Belgium (Flemish) 22.7
21 Belgium (Flemish) 18.7 21 Greece 21.9
22 Belgium (French) 18 22 Spain 20.8
23 Sweden 17.5 23 Ukraine 20
24 France 16.5 24 Norway 19.4
25 Ireland 16.4 25 Italy 18.5
25 Netherlands 16.4 26 Portugal 18
27 Ukraine 15.7 27 Russian Federation 17.3
28 Portugal 15.1 28 Netherlands 16.8
29 Luxembourg 13.7 29 France 16.6
30 Italy 13.5 30 Ireland 16.1
31 Romania 11.7 31 Switzerland 15.9
32 Switzerland 11.5 32 Israel 15.4
33 Russian Federation 11.4 33 Sweden 15.3
34 Macedonia & Albania 8.1 34 Macedonia & Albania 15
35 Iceland 6.3 34 Luxembourg 15
36 Israel 5.4 36 Iceland 5.7

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk