Blog: Olly WehringOlly Wehring, coming to a screen near you

Olly Wehring | 29 January 2009

As many of our UK readers will have seen today, England's chief medical officer has advised parents that children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol, even in small quantities.

Sir Liam Donaldson said childhood should be an "alcohol-free time", as ministers prepare to publish guidance on the issue for the first time.

It is legal for parents to give a child over five alcohol in the home in the UK and the guidance is not expected to become law, but this still remains a contentious issue.

Many point to countries such as France and Italy where wine is more routinely given to children as part of their diet. The argument goes that by overseeing your child's introduction to alcohol in small quantities you can "de-mystify" it and teach respect for drink.

But supporters of Sir Liam point to rising rates of binge-drinking and alcohol-related liver disease in the young and see the guideline as a necessary step in preventing people getting a taste for alcohol at too young an age.

This is a hugely complex issue, with attitudes to drink deeply embedded in national culture, and Sir Liam's recommendations may appear a blunt tool in the fight to curb alchol abuse. Nonetheless, much more than is presently being done needs to occur and the government clearly feels it needs to give direction.

For those interested in this debate, just-drinks, in the guise of managing editor Olly Wehring, will be appearing on Channel Four News at Midday today to try and make some sense of it all. Keep an eye out for the interview and let us know what you think.


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