ROME, April 8 (UPI) -- Girls in Italy as young as 11 are using alcohol more and taking more risks with it, Italian health authorities said.
The country's Higher Health Institute released a report Thursday saying at-risk drinkers of both sexes under the age of 16 are on the rise, with 18.5 percent of males and 15.5 percent of females in that age bracket showing worrying drink patterns, ANSA reported.
"We're particularly concerned about pre-adolescents girls," Emanuele Scafato, head of the National Alcohol Observatory, said.
"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," Scafato said.
In a slightly older age group, more and more Italian girls are drinking outside mealtimes and drinking to get drunk, the institute's report 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 in 10 years," the report said.
The Italian government, battling the growing problem of binge drinking and alcohol-related deaths, has passed a number of measures including zero tolerance for drivers and stricter controls at discos, ANSA reported.