may contribute to underage drinking
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Exposure
to alcohol advertising is an important
factor in alcohol consumption among
young people, according to a study
funded by the National Institute of
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Approximately 20 percent of all
alcoholic drinks are consumed by
individuals below age 21, Dr. Leslie B.
Snyder, from the University of
Connecticut in Storrs, and colleagues
note in their report. When they do drink
alcohol, underage drinkers tend to
imbibe more heavily than adults and are
involved in twice as many fatal car
crashes while driving.
But up until now, there have been no
long-term studies of the impact of
alcohol advertising on youth.
To fill this research gap, Snyder and
her associates interviewed 1872 subjects
ages 15 to 26 years from 24 media
markets up to four times between April
1999 and January 2001.
At the first interview, drinkers
consumed an average of 38.5 drinks in
the past month. Those younger than 21
years had 29 drinks on average.
Results showed that for each extra
advertisement that individuals saw, they
had 1 percent more alcoholic drinks per
month. The results were similar for
"Market advertising expenditures per
capita were related to drinking levels
and to growth in drinking over time,"
Snyder's group reports in the Archives
of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
For each additional dollar per capita
spent on advertising, individuals
consumed 3 percent more alcoholic
beverages per month. Young people were
more likely to drink more over time in
areas with more alcohol advertising.
"All these findings point to alcohol
advertising as an important arena for
interventions seeking to reduce underage
drinking and its tragic consequences,"
Dr. David H. Jernigan, from Georgetown
University in Washington DC, comments in
a related editorial.
He suggests that if alcohol companies
were to reduce the number of ads young
people see, "they would make a
substantial contribution to reducing