Many websites and news organisations, such as the Sun, the Guardian and Business Insider, have today faithfully reproduced a press release picked up on a report that claims even moderate drinking by parents can “upset” children.
The report (which neglected to ask what percentage of that moderate drinking is actually caused by children), is produced by an organisation called the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS).
The press release throws out a number of statistics, such as nearly one in five children feeling embarrassed by their parents’ drinking or 7% saying their parents had argued with them more than usual, yet the conclusions in the report itself (on page 5, if you’ve got the appetite) are vague and general and make no specific reference to what harm, if any, is being done.
For example, no evidence is presented that “feeling embarrassed” or “arguing more than usual” are harmful.
According to the IAS website, its core funding comes from a charity called the Alliance House Foundation, which used to be known as the United Kingdom Temperance Alliance, and whose own use of Hogarth’s “Gin Lane” on their home page at least makes their position on gin quite clear.
Whether their motives for wishing people would turn their back on alcohol are from bitter personal experience or the effects of biblical instruction is of no concern to Saint Peacock.
And no one in their right mind would attempt to argue that alcohol isn’t a major cause of self-loathing, shortage of money, hospital overcrowding and black eyes.
Their recommendation as to how people ought to take fluids onboard instead, however, is a little unconventional.
The title of the report is “Like sugar for adults”, and comes from a comment from one of the children interviewed for study to describe how alcohol appears to them.
Buried deep in their own website, though, is a rather abandoned page called “Temperance Alternatives.”
Here they recommend just two beverages for the abstainer: Vimto and Coca Cola.
(The illo for Coke comes from an age when it was marketed as an “Intellectual Beverage” to be found alongside other “fruit syrups”.)
Vimto contains 4.7 grams of sugar per 100ml, Coca Cola a whopping 10.7gm.
So it’s a little odd for an organisation to fund a report that fails to prove that something is harmful, and instead recommend the consumption of something that definitely is.