June 12, 2009

No alcohol in high school, less drinking

Children whose parents didn't permit them to drink underage were significantly less likely to drink heavily in college, U.S. researchers found.

Caitlin Abar, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University's Prevention Research and Methodology Centers, suggested parents practice a zero-tolerance alcohol policy at home and said there is no scientific basis to the common belief that prohibiting alcohol turns it into a forbidden fruit and encourages abuse.

Abar surveyed almost 300 college freshmen and related their drinking habits to their parents' modeling and permissibility of alcohol use. Those students whose parents did not permit them to drink underage -- about half of the group -- drank less than others in college.

In addition, the greater number of drinks that a parent had set as a limit for the teens, the more often they drank and got drunk in college, Abar said in a statement.

However, whether the parents themselves drank appeared to have little effect on predicting their children's behaviors when accounting for the permissiveness they exhibited toward teen alcohol use.

More research is needed, Abar said, to determine whether the findings differ among the students who drank with their parents at meals from those whose parents allowed their children to drink both inside and outside of the house.

The study was presented at meeting of the Society for Prevention Research in Washington and is published in Addictive Behaviors.