Why alcohol trends may ruin the next generation

We all know and understand the risks and dangers of drinking alcohol. But despite today's awareness, an alarming amount of us are allowing our kids to consume alcohol.

Although it's not illegal for children aged five to 16 to drink alcohol at home, there can be serious health implications if parents introduce their offspring to it at a young age.

A recent study found 11% of parents with children aged five to seven allow them to consume alcoholic drinks in the home, while more than one third of parents with kids under the age of 14 use alcohol as a bribe for good behaviour.

Now, Joanna Simons, chief executive of charity Alcohol Concern, is warning families against it - and urging that children should be kept alcohol-free at least until they reach the age of 15.

'We know that many parents start from the best intentions when they introduce children to alcohol at home, but all the research indicates that the younger that children start drinking, the more likely they are to have problems with alcohol in later life,' she says.

'Parents are really important role models for their children and the more that they can keep an eye on the number of units they're drinking, and have a few days off drinking each week, the more their children's attitude to alcohol will be shaped in a safer way.

'The chief medical officer advises that an alcohol-free childhood is the safest option and that those under 15 years old, ideally, should not drink at all.'

The NHS advises against children drinking alcohol before the age of 18. Underage drinking can lead to a number of consequences, among them:

  • Erratic behaviour
  • Violence
  • Illicit drug use
  • Physical and mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Interestingly, figures in 2015 show that fewer children are drinking alcohol than ever before.

According to statistics released by Health and Social Care Information Centre, the proportion of young adults binge drinking, fell by more than a third from 2005, from 29% to 18%.

But changing trends among teenagers need to be watched carefully, in order to avoid future problems.

More recently, for example, statistics suggest that 43% of British men and 35% of women between the ages of 18-24 are skipping meals in favour of binge drinking.

So-called 'drunkorexia' is an epidemic that needs to be tackled. In a world of ever-growing pressure to look 'supermodel' thin, young people - and not just females, as the statistics show - are consuming large amount of alcohol in a bid to shed weight.

Although introducing children to alcohol in the home environment may appear to parents as an effective way to monitor their consumption, it can have more damaging effects than positive.

It is, of course, important that parents play a part in making their children aware of the dangers of alcohol by promoting a healthy diet - and monitoring their own habits, too.

With Cancer Research UK running a Dryathlon this September - 'after a summer of overindulgence, clear your head, feel fitter and save some money, all whilst raising money to help beat cancer sooner' - there's never been a better time to do it.


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