Rates of drinking also varied by deprivation, with young people in the least deprived areas being more likely to have ever drunk alcohol than those in the most deprived areas (70% and 50% respectively).
There was an association between age of first drinking and frequency of drinking. Among those who had first had a drink at less than 10 years, 28 per cent were regular drinkers, while among those who had their first drink at age 15 or 16, 3 per cent were regular drinkers.
A regular drinker is defined in the report as someone who has at least one drink per week. The report defines various risky behaviours, and for alcohol this is described as at least one drink a month.
While there may be a correlation between the age of the first drink and the later level of drinking, suggesting this is because of parents giving children alcohol earlier might provide an explanation. However, it could be equally argued that in areas of deprivation there is logically going to be less disposable income to spend on alcohol, which might provide either an alternative or an additional explanation. It seems to me that suggesting middle class parents are the cause of the level of drinking later in life is less politically troublesome than suggesting that deprivation itself may the cause, with all the suggestions of social inequality that naturally follow. Provoking middle class angst is less controversial than talking about inequality.
It's an interesting finding, but as is often the case with such reports, the conclusions drawn by the press are overly simplistic and not entirely supported by what the report actually states.