GIRLS as young as ten told a health worker their favourite drink was an alcopop.

The shocking admission came from Year 6 pupils when Ray Hatter from NHS South East Essex had visited the primary schools, two in Southend and one in Castle Point, to ask girls what their favourite drink was.

To his surprise they said it was WKD, a vodka-based fruit drink. He also fears that in several cases the children had been bought the alcopop by their parents.

Mr Hatter said: “We asked Year 6 girls what was their favourite drink. WKD was by far the most popular. Every time you give a kid one of those you are giving them more than a pub measure of whisky.”

He added: “When police stop people in this area, overwhelmingly they found the alcohol has come from home. Either with the knowledge of the parents or nicked from home.”

Mr Hatter made the comments during a council neighbourhood meeting at Leigh Beck Junior School, Canvey, while giving a presentation about the dangers of excessive drinking.

He works with Drinkwise, an annual alcohol awareness campaign, which tries to help people of all ages understand the problems that drink can cause.

Statistics show the number of people being admitted to hospital with liver disease in south east Essex has more than doubled in the last ten years.

Kevin Watts, headteacher of the Northlands Junior School, Basildon, said: “I had a conversation with a member of staff who was talking about the danger of alcohol to pupils. They said they hadn’t drunk it, but they could list all of the alcoholic beverages that you could think of. The teacher was quite surprised they knew them.”

Bill Dick, ward councillor for St Peter’s ward in Castle Point, said: “Sometimes children say these things to sound big. I don’t know how they get it, because they are too young.”