London, Jan 29 (ANI): A survey has found that British girls as young as 11 are binge drinking as much as boys.
According to the NHS figures, those who use alcohol are knocking back an average 11.3 units a week, the equivalent of six medium glasses of wine or five pints of beer.
This compares with 11.9 units for the average teenage boy drinker aged 11 to 15 - the first time girls have been anywhere near as close as 5 percent behind boys. Only the year before the gap was 18 percent.
While boys tend to stick to lager and cider, girls are increasingly downing spirits such as vodka mixed with soft drinks to mask the taste.
The figures reveal that in 2009, 2,751 boys were admitted to hospital with "alcohol-specific conditions", such as liver damage or ethanol poisoning, and for girls, the total was 3,661 - 33 percent higher.
Experts warn that Britain is facing a health time bomb, as the current generation of young binge drinkers are likely to continue their habits into middle age.
And they blame the alcohol industry for targeting their products at women.
"Underage drinking is an issue that we should all be concerned about," the Daily Mail quoted Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, as saying.
"Young girls are saturated by images, messages and role models, including the way adults drink, which creates a casual acceptance of drunkenness.
'But this culture is taking a toll on young people's health, with high levels of hospital admissions and all too frequent trips to A and E.
"The next generation of binge drinkers are being created through access to cheap booze in supermarkets and irresponsible marketing by multi-million-pound retailers and producers," he stated.
The NHS figures on drinking rates come from a survey of almost 8,000 girls and boys aged 11 to 15 in 264 schools in 2009 - the latest year available. (ANI)