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Parents giving children alcohol too young, researchers say

From BBC - December 14, 2017

Parents could be storing up problems for their children by introducing them to alcohol too young and ordering takeaways too often, researchers warn.

Two universities found that one in six parents gives their children alcohol by the age of 14, when their body and brain are not yet fully developed.

Many parents may believe they are acting responsibly - but that's not backed up by research, experts said.

Regular takeaways were a risk to the heart, a separate study said.

A team of researchers from St George's, University of London, surveyed nearly 2,000 nine and 10-year-olds on their diets and found that one in four ate takeaways at least once a week.

This group had higher body fat composition from consuming too many calories, and lower levels of vitamins and minerals than children who ate food cooked at home.

Continuing on this kind of diet could increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems later in life, the research team warned, saying takeaways should be "actively discouraged".

When it comes to giving adolescents a taste of alcohol, well-educated parents of white children are the main culprits, research from University College London and Pennsylvania State University, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests.

But very few ethnic minority parents said they allowed early drinking - only 2%.

Using data on 10,000 children from the Millennium Cohort Study, researchers found that light or moderate-drinking parents were just as likely to let their children drink alcohol as heavy-drinking parents.

Prof Jennifer Maggs, lead study author, said: "Parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking.

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