Alcohol Ads: What Do Kids See?

Alcohol related trouble in high school was linked to alcohol ad exposure in middle school

(RxWiki News) What do kids learn when they see TV advertisements that make drinking look awesome? They certainly aren’t learning to wait till they’re old enough.

A recent study asked a group of teens about their exposure to alcohol advertisements, drinking and alcohol-related problems every year from the 7th grade through the 10th grade. The study’s findings showed an increased risk for alcohol-related problems in 10th graders if they were exposed to a lot of alcohol advertisements and enjoyed those advertisements in the 7th grade.

"Talk to your kids about alcohol safety."

Jerry L. Grenard, PhD, from the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University in California, led an investigation into the influence of alcohol advertisements on teen alcohol use.

For the study, 3,890 students were surveyed once per year from the 7th grade through the 10th grade. Survey questions asked about exposure to alcohol advertisements, alcohol use, problems related to alcohol use, peer drinking, parent drinking and other life factors.

Results of the study found the more 7th graders were exposed to alcohol advertisements, and the more they liked those advertisements, the more likely they were to drink as they got older.

The 7th grade boys who were exposed to alcohol ads they enjoyed were more likely to have alcohol-related problems in the 10th grade.

It was the link between exposure to the alcohol ads and liking the alcohol ads that increased the risks, not just exposure to alcohol ads in general.

Watching popular shows during 7th grade with alcohol ads during the breaks was predictive of alcohol-related problems with girls.

Authors concluded, “Younger adolescents appear to be susceptible to the persuasive messages contained in alcohol commercials broadcast on TV, which sometimes results in a positive affective reaction to the ads.”

Authors found that exposure to alcohol advertisements could influence alcohol-consuming habits in underage drinkers. Authors recommended a comprehensive policy that would limit young adolescent exposure to alcohol ads on TV, as well as on the Internet and in print media and display ads.

Exposure to enticing alcohol advertisements can influence young adolescent perceptions about acceptable drinking behavior and underage drinking in general.

This study was published in January in Pediatrics.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health provided funding for this study. No conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
January 29, 2013