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Want to fight underage drinking? It starts with dad
According to a recent study done in Taiwan, fathers have a stronger influence on a childs drinking habits than mom does. - photo by Tyler Stahle
Once again, it seems that you cant put a price tag on the important role of a father.

According to a recent study done in Taiwan, fathers have a stronger influence on a childs drinking habits than mothers do.

Hsing-Yi Chang, who coauthored the study, used data from previous research that asked nearly 4,000 Taiwanese students about their drinking habits. The students were then asked to describe how often their parents drank and how they perceived a parent's attitude towards alcohol.

Young men who had fathers that either didnt drink, or who did drink but were opposed to underage drinking, had between 39 to 73 percent reduced risk of drinking alcohol.

In boys, knowing his father was against drinking had stronger effects than fathers behavior, said Chang.

The study holds important implications for the American family as well, as underage drinking is a major public health problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Underage drinking causes more than 4,000 annual deaths each year and is the most abused drug by youth throughout the United States. Youth who participate in underage drinking are more likely to have bad or failing grades, trouble with the law and social problems.

There is no doubt about it now: there are long-term cognitive consequences to excessive drinking of alcohol in adolescence, said Aaron White, an assistant research professor in the psychiatry department at Duke University, as quoted in the New York Times.

So just how important are parents in influencing their children to stay away from alcohol? Probably more than you think. According to Elements of Behavioral Health, 80 percent of teens say their parents are a major influencer when they consider drinking.

According to Randell Turner, vice president of National Fatherhood Initiative, its time for fathers to step up and put an end to underage drinking.

Our cultures absence of the father figure as man, mentor and trusted guardian has had a tremendous impact on children, wrote Turner on And one of the most urgent social problems we face is substance abuse among our nations children.

If youre a father wanting to talk to your children about avoiding underage drinking but dont know where to begin, Claire McCarthy of Boston Childrens Hospital says start in front of the TV.

Talk about the ads there are lots of them and why they are appealing, and what the truth is when it comes to alcohol, she wrote on the Boston Childrens Hospitals Pediatric Health Blog. While setting rules and expectations and enforcing them is important, its also important that you say more than: Dont drink.