FEARS that 11-year-olds could be hooked on booze have surfaced after new research revealed the scale of drinking among kids.
The figures, which polled 10,498 11-year-olds, showed nearly 14 per cent of youngsters had drunk more than “a few sips” of alcohol at least once.
One in seven had tried booze, according to the study by boffins at University College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The report's lead author Yvonne Kelly called for "intervention" to stop children turning to alcohol in even greater numbers.
The drinking habits of mums and peer-pressure also had a major effect, the research showed.
Children whose mothers drank heavily were 80 per cent more likely to hit the bottle than those whose mums were teetotal and boys were more likely to drink alcohol than girls.
Youngsters whose friends drank were five times more likely to do so, the shock figures showed.
Other factors linked with underage drinking were having started puberty, being a second or later born child, having difficulty expressing emotions and antisocial behaviour.
Lead author Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, said: “Drinking in adolescence is considered a risky behaviour, it often co-occurs with other risky behaviours and it is linked to educational failure and to premature mortality, for example via accidental deaths.
“Improving our understanding of the factors that influence drinking is important as it has implications for the development of policies and interventions aimed at reducing risky behaviours.”
She added: “Our findings support the need for interventions working at multiple levels, including family and school, to help shape choices around risky behaviours including drinking.”