British parents told no alcohol for under-15s

Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:15pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Parents should not let their children drink any alcohol until they are 15, the British government said on Thursday after a review of medical evidence.

Those between 15 and 17 years old should have alcohol no more than once a week and always under the supervision of a parent or carer, said the Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson.

"Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option for young people," he said in new guidance.

The advice to parents comes as part of government efforts to reduce the levels of youth drinking.

Donaldson said a third of a million British children aged 11-15 were getting drunk every week.

"That is a very large number and we need to do something about that," he told BBC radio.

"There is emerging medical evidence now to suggest that damage to the structure and function of the brain takes place with exposure to alcohol at those sorts of ages."

The law leaves control of drinking at home to a parent's discretion and only bars the consumption of alcohol by children under five.

The government hopes that clear guidelines on safe drinking limits for children will help tackle a trend of increasing binge drinking among the young.   Continued...

<p>Bottles of beer are seen on the production line at the Fosters Group brewery in Melbourne November 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas</p>