Alcohol consumption during childhood and early adulthood can hinder brain development and is linked to poor performance in intellectual tests in later life, a leading scientist has claimed.

Biologist Dr Aric Sigman, who is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine claims that there is too much room for confusion with current laws and there should be a single catch-all drinking age of 18.

Currently, parents can legally allow five-year-olds to drink at home and underage teenagers can sit in pubs with friends - although people need to be 18 to legally buy alcohol.

Yet a major study by the NHS discovered that the number of children treated in hospital for drink related problems has increased by a third in the last four years.

Dr Sigman claims that a "sycophantic adoration by the British middle classes for the way in which the French drink has not worked in our children's favour".

In France, many young people are introduced to alcohol early on, where familial drinking with meals is more commonplace. Yet Dr Sigma, who has just published Alcohol Nation: How to protect our children from today's drinking culture, has argued this approach is wrong.

He said: "Although parents may delude themselves into believing that they are giving their children a more responsible cosmopolitan and sophisticated approach to alcohol by 'Doing The Continental', the French actually have a serious alcohol problem and France's death rate from cirrhosis of the liver is actually twice that of the UK's. Drink Like the French, Die Like the French."

Posted by Robert Mair on 9.6.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: 

 alcohol bottles