In a move to tackle the worrying increase in the amount of ''binge drinking'' among young children, the UK government will offer guidance to parents on how much alcohol their children can drink safely from the ages of five to 18.
Also, the Government is reviewing if the current legal age to drink should be kept at five.
AdvertisementAccording to reports, Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, will draw the new guidelines, which are due to be ready for publication in the spring.
Till date, ministers have hesitated to issue recommendations on children's alcohol consumption, thinking that it could mean too much of "nanny state" interference.
But now, with the increase in "binge drinking" among young children has led to a change of heart.
Parents'' leaders have criticised the move worrying that any guidelines will encourage children to push the boundaries beyond them.
The boundaries will cover all youngsters from the age of five - the age at which drinking alcohol in the home is at present legal - right through until the age of 18.
Health department officials have said that current guidance on safe drinking levels exists only for those over 18.
And thus, there is a gap, as it is legal for someone aged over five to consume alcohol, and given the risks of drinking to health, development risks are greater for children than for adults.
The debate over the guidance will also take into consideration Australian government's decision, which says that young people under the age of 18 should not drink to become intoxicated.
The Government's youth action plan has cautioned that youngsters who drink too much alcohol are have a tendency to take drugs of all kinds and be absent from school.
"Some parents believe drinking by their teenage children should be restricted to special occasions and in all cases to family settings yet others think that young people under the age of 18 should not drink at all," The Independent quoted the plan as saying.
Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the Parents Aloud pressure group, said: "There is no necessity for the guidelines because there should be no reason for children to be introduced to alcohol. For the Government to say you can drink is wrong. OK, by age 16 you need to be realistic but before then it should be absolutely prohibited."
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