Friday, June 04, 2010

Is it wise to warn against alcohol consumption for under 15s

I have a confession to make.

I've been regularly consuming alcohol since I was probably 9 years old.

And I don't think it's done me any harm at all.

I'm not sure exactly when this started, but I'm guessing around 1976. Every Sunday we had a proper Sunday dinner and my dad opened a bottle of decent red wine. Every Sunday I had a small glass of this decent red wine. I still think that this was a factor in me never really having a great desire to get drunk in my teens. The only really costly effect is that it's given me a taste for a decent bottle of red. However in those days and for much longer, really, at least until the 90s, my father refused to accept that anyone other than the French could make decent wine, while I was branching out and experimenting much earlier.

I think that this model of responsible drinking did me some good so I'm slightly alarmed to see that Welsh parents are being warned not to give alcohol to under 15s, listing the binge drinking culture and physiological damage.

I'd like to know exactly how much booze you'd have to give a 15 year old to cause damage to their brains, but I'm betting a glass of wine with Sunday dinner is not going to be significant and will pay off greater dividends in giving an example of a healthy more sociable attitude to alcohol.

I've never been a great fan of banning certain foods. Don't get me wrong, I fed Anna water in an opaque cup and called it juice for as long as I could get away with and did lots of mushing up of organic vegetables and avoiding processed foods in the early days. It's funny, but to this day, water is her first drink of choice. I never encouraged frequenting fast food restuarants, but nor did I stop it, although we go to them less these days because I also make sure I leave stuff lying around showing the environmental impact of these places.

The only thing I've stuck rigidly to is absolutely no Nestle products because I really disapprove of that company for more reasons than I have time to tell you about at the moment, but this will give you a rough idea. I will not buy anything from Nestle under any circumstances, although I'm not so evil as to ban Anna from having them anywhere else. Funny, though, she will voluntarily turn them down even if I'm not there most of the time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm all in favour of parents (and everyone else) being given accurate scientific evidence based information, but I'm not sure that advising prescriptive blanket bans on things suitably equips a young person to make healthy choices in the future. Does that make sense?

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