A European poll has found that the UK has the third-highest number of 15 and 16-year-olds with an alcohol problem out of 35 countries.
Research by University of the West of England academics found that half of British youngsters drink to excess every month, with girls more likely to abuse alcohol than boys, suggesting that a ‘profound social change’ has been taking place and that it was no longer unacceptable for girls to drink heavily.
The study, which included a sample of 1,004 boys and 1,175 girls from the UK, also found that teenagers are developing serious illnesses as a result of alcohol abuse, while many are dying prematurely.
Professor Martin Plant, who led the investigation, which is the largest project of its kind, discovered that only Bulgaria and the Isle of Man had a poorer record when it came to binge drinking.
But high levels of relationships, sexual activity and delinquency problems in the UK were also highlighted by the study.
Professor Plant said: ‘The UK retains its unenviable position in relation to binge drinking, intoxication and alcohol-related problems among teenagers.
‘This problem is both serious and chronic. There is a clear scientific consensus that alcohol education and mass media campaigns have a very poor track record in influencing drinking habits.’