Teens aged under 17 who drink alcohol weekly are three times more likely to binge drink and be dependent on alcohol as adults compared with their peers who don't drink, an Australian-led research said.
"The study further debunks the myth that teen experimentation with alcohol promotes responsible drinking, instead it sets a young person up for later-life drinking problem," Xinhua news agency quoted Professor George Patton from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute as saying.
The researchers looked at the drinking patterns of 9,000 adolescents in Australia and New Zealand.
The findings suggest that delaying drinking alcohol would have "significant public health benefits" as well as showing that public health messages "need to focus as much on frequency of drinking as the amount consumed", said lead author Edmund Silins.
"Discouraging or delaying alcohol use in adolescence is likely to have substantial benefits in adulthood in terms of preventing harmful drinking behaviours which adversely affect health and well-being," he added.