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Can early introduction to alcohol in childhood reduce binging in later years?

  • Asks ...

    My wife is French and she argues that kids should have wine diluted with water with Sunday dinners and other important meals as a way to teach them how to enjoy wine and dining but also as a way to introduce them to alcohol in a way that won’t make them want to get drunk. She argues that we have so many more problems with alcohol here because no one ever learns how to enjoy alcohol in moderation with food as young people and instead everyone’s first experiences with alcohol around here involve like keg parties and basically getting wasted.

    Her logic kind of makes sense to me but still, there is something that just feels so wrong about give our young kids (aged 7 and 9) alcohol – not to mention the possibility of child services busting down our door!!! Is what she says true or do the French have less problems with alcohol and drunkenness for reasons totally other than because they introduce wine at a young age.

  • Prof. Jane Ballis Says ...
    Prof. Jane Ballis


    Thanks for writing and giving me a chance to respond to myth that the French or Europeans handle their liquor better. One study states that half of the European countries had higher rates of alchohol intoxification among their youth than the US. Also, that alcohol related problems and consumption were higher as well as frequency of use in Europe than the US. (Grube, J. W. (2005). Youth drinking rates and problems: A comparison of European countries and the United States. Calverton, MD: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Office of Juvenile Justice Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program.)

    Moreover, in an U. K. Guradian article from January 29, 2009, by Lizzie Davies while in Paris, it is admitted that, "France is no longer immune to binge drinking". The article then states that "according to government figures, the number of under-18s claiming to get drunk regularly increased from 19% to 26% between 2003 and 2006."

    This article also quotes the French National Institute for Health Prevention and Education while promoting in one of their campagns that "premature introduction to alcohol, and excessive consumption during adolescence, can add to the risk of problematic [drinking] later on".

    So based on this recent studies, we see that the method of early introduction to alchohol has been problematic and is not currently recommended by the French goverment.

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