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Italian girls 'using alcohol more riskily'

11-15-year-old consumers 'three times adult female numbers'

14 April, 14:48
Italian girls 'using alcohol more riskily'

(ANSA) - Rome, April 7 - Italian girls as young as 11 are using alcohol more and more riskily, the Higher Health Institute (ISS) has said.

"We're particularly concerned about pre-adolescents girls," said Emanuele Scafato, the head of the ISS's National Alcohol Observatory.

"Among 11 to 15-year-old girls we see an average number of consumers markedly higher than the overall Italian female average, three times more than adult women".

In a slightly older age group, more and more Italian girls are drinking outside mealtimes and drinking to get drunk, the ISS said.

"Even though men are still the bigger drinkers, the most significant rise in the use of alcohol away from the dinner table is among female consumers aged 25-44, who have doubled (+45.2%) in 10 years", the ISS said.

For both sexes, at-risk drinkers under the age of 16 are on the rise, with 18.5% of males and 15.5% of females in that age bracket showing worrying drink patterns.

"About 475,000 minors are at risk," the ISS said. The use of alco-pops and other drinks targeted at the teen market has surged in Italy in recent years and the stigma of being seen drunk in public has all but vanished, experts say, especially in certain northern and central regions.

The case of a 14-year-old girl rushed to a Rome hospital in an alcoholic coma gained national headlines in April, with calls to clamp down on the sale of alcohol to minors.

The girl and her friends had bought two bottles of vodka before heading for one of the hottest spots on Rome's drinking scene, Campo dei Fiori.

Faced with the growing problem of binge drinking and alcohol-related deaths, the government has passed a raft of measures including zero tolerance for drivers and stricter controls at discos.

The report came out days after national statistics agency Istat said over eight and a half million Italians engage in some form of dangerous drinking.