In the Czech Republic parents are warned about a risky practice: giving their kids no and low alcohol beer.
They Suchej únor (Dry February) campaign in the Czech Republic has launched a new campaign called “Don’t Hop Children” (Nechmel děti). This campaign aims to warn parents of the risks associated with giving children no and low alcohol beers.
The “Don’t Hop Children” campaign has conducted research into how much alcohol Czech kids get. The results are revealed to increase awareness of the potential risks and problems.
According to research conducted for the campaign by Nielsen Admosphere:
- 23% of children have had non-alcoholic flavored beers,
- 3% of children have had flavored beers containing alcohol, and
- Parents surveyed admitted serving flavored beers to 36.4% of children aged 11 to 15 years and even 11% of children aged 3 to 6 years.
Big Alcohol plays a major role through their marketing in parents giving kids alcohol or non-alcohol products. Mixed marketing messages particularly on flavored low-alcohol beers and radlers make these alcohol products seem more like soft drinks than harmful products.
Research among 1,000 parents of children aged 3 to 15 years found the following concerning results:
- 6.5% of parents don’t consider a beverage with an alcohol content of up to 0.5% to be an alcoholic beverage.
- 9.9% of parents don’t consider radlers to be alcohol products.
- 27.2% of parents consider them harmless.
- This number goes up to 36.7% among parents of children aged 11 to 15 years.
- One-third of parents of children aged 11 to 15 years, consider non-alcoholic products to be healthier than classic sodas.
- 5% of parents do not consider small amounts of alcohol to be harmful to their children.
In the case of non-alcoholic beverages, all sorts of ‘beer soft drinks’ and radlers, the situation is more complicated precisely because they can be – and often are – perceived as a kind of soft drink in advertisements or in stores,” said Petr Freimann, the organizer of the annual Suchej únor (Dry February) campaign, as per expats cz.
It’s important to treat these – at least for children – in the same way as alcoholic beverages, where the alcohol content and the position of the beverage on the shelves are clearly defined.”Petr Freimann, organizer, Suchej únor (Dry February) campaign
Experts are saying that giving children even non-alcoholic beer gets them used to the bitter taste of hops. This leads to at-risk alcohol use later on in life with alcohol products. Another finding is that children who have been allowed to use alcohol at home are much more likely to consume more alcohol and in more high-risk ways outside the home.
Even though [these products] are among the so-called non-alcoholic variety, the 0.5% alcohol content for a small child’s body is similar to that of an adult having a normal beer,” said Petr Popov, head of the Clinic of Addiction Studies of the General Hospital in Prague, as per expats cz.Petr Popov, head of the Clinic of Addiction Studies, General Hospital in Prague
Scientific evidence shows that allowing children to sip alcohol leads to increased alcohol issues for children in the future. One study found that kids who were allowed to sip alcohol in the sixth grade were more likely to have one full alcoholic beverage, get intoxicated or use alcohol heavily by high school, compared to those who did not have any alcohol when they were younger.
Another study found that child alcohol sipping leads children to have more positive expectations about alcohol use. Importantly, thoughts about the effects of alcohol are related to starting alcohol use and ultimately using alcohol more heavily.
Another study from Australia found that teens aged 16 to 17 years who were allowed to have alcohol in their household, consumed more alcohol than those who were not and experienced more harm due to their alcohol use. These harms include one or more of the below:
- Trouble at school or work the day after using alcohol,
- Arguments with family members,
- Alcohol-related injuries or accidents,
- Violence or involvement in a fight due to alcohol, and
- After consuming alcohol, having sex with someone and regretting it later.
Campaigns such as “Don’t Hop Children” are important as they raise awareness about the problem of allowing kids to have alcohol and because they increase literacy about the practices of the alcohol industry to hook children and youth to their products early. Meanwhile, either total bans on alcohol advertising or comprehensive limits to alcohol marketing are needed to tackle the harmful no and low alcohol product advertising by the alcohol industry.