In their ‘Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Synthesis Report’, UNICEF (2018, p 5) recognized the family unit as the ‘natural and elementary social unit of all modern society’ and a key to understanding social progress and development that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) seek to address. The family unit, while appreciated, often is not prioritized in development efforts. The UN Secretary General acknowledged that the contribution of families continues to be largely overlooked, and that ‘policy focusing on improving the well-being of families is certain to benefit development’ (United Nations, 2010). At the global level, there is a need for more research on the family, with the recognition that family policy requires adaptation to the different contexts and countries in which it will be implemented.
This study seeks to contribute to this research literature on family and its role in health behaviour by focusing on alcohol involvement in two generations of the Joint Child Health Project (JCHP), a longitudinal birth cohort study on the East African island nation of Mauritius. This research relates to SDG 3 on improving health and well-being, including via prevention and treatment of substance use (SDG 3.5) and harmful use of alcohol (SDG 3.5.2). The work serves to exemplify how a prospective child health study can be utilized to examine risk relationships within the family unit to better understand each child’s risky health behaviour.