THE RATES of children in England who have consumed an alcoholic drink have dropped to their lowest point according to figures released by the NHS Digital.
The 2015 Health Survey for England (HSE) showed that 15.6% of children aged 8–15 self-reported having consumed an alcoholic drink. This is the lowest recorded level since the HSE began in 1999 and the rate has been in steady decline since reaching its highest peak of 44.9% in 2003. Regular drinking in this age group was found to be rare; only 1% reported drinking at least once a week.
The findings show that the rates of ever having consumed alcohol increased with the age of the children. A rate of 2.2% was reported by children aged 8–10, 6.1% by children aged 11–12, and 36.9% by children aged 13–15. The figures from the HSE also reveal that the proportion of 8–15 year olds that reported ever having smoked a cigarette in 2015 was 4.4% in 2015, a decrease from 19% in 2003. Children who regularly smoke also remain rare. In 2014–2015, 1% of children aged 8–15 reported having smoked at least one cigarette per week.
The HSE also examined the physical activity levels of children aged between 5 and 15 in England. It found that while outside of school hours, 22% of children were moderately active for at least 60 minutes every day. This is an increase from a rate of 18% recorded in 2012 but lower than the earliest comparable data from 2008 which recorded a rate of 24%.
Jack Redden, Reporter