Young people ‘should avoid alcohol until 24’

Telegraph (UK) 06 Jun 2011

Adults should shun beer, wine and spirits until they reach 24 amid claims “modest teenage binge drinking” is linked to poorer performance in tests of intellect in later life. Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, also criticised parents’ continental-style attitude to alcohol, saying a “sycophantic adoration by the British middle classes for the way in which the French drink has not worked in our children’s favour”. The comments are made in a new book – Alcohol Nation: How to protect our children from today’s drinking culture. At the moment, parents can legally allow five-year-olds to drink alcohol at home, while underage teenagers can sit in pubs with their friends. People must be 18 to legally buy alcohol. But Dr Sigman said the approach left “too much room for confusion and manoeuvre” and called for one catch-all age limit for drinking – 18. Ideally, young people should not consume any alcohol until they reach 24-and-a-half, when a child’s brain has fully developed, he said.