Children Exposed to Alcohol Ads More Likely to Drink

Article excerpt

Children today are bombarded with pervasive alcohol marketing that new research shows is contributing to underage drinking--and it is happening at an early age.

According to a recent Rand study, children as young as 11 and 12 who are exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to use alcohol or to plan to use alcohol. The study found that children with the highest levels of marketing exposure were 50 percent more likely to drink and 36 percent more likely to intend to drink a year later compared to children with little exposure to alcohol ads.

The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, measured the exposure of 1,786 South Dakota sixth-graders to alcohol advertising and marketing, including television, magazine, radio and in-store displays. A follow-up survey a year later measured drinking intentions and behaviors of the same children.

While exposure to television advertising, often found on sports programs, increased the likelihood of drinking, other marketing mechanisms also mattered. Sixth-graders who owned an alcohol-related promotional item, such as a hat or poster, were nearly twice as likely to drink a year later compared to those who did not.

Rebecca L. Collins, PhD, a Rand senior behavioral scientist and lead author of the study, said the influence of alcohol marketing is far-reaching.

"Kids who see beer displays in grocery stores, drug stores or who see these things at sporting events are getting the message that beer is part of fun and everyday life," Collins told The Nation's Health. …