Teenagers who are familiar with TV ads for alcohol are more likely to drink, according to new research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ Annual Meeting in Boston.
Researchers at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center asked more than 2,500 young people, ages 15 to 20, about their exposure to alcohol, whether they had a favorite alcohol ad, and if they owned alcohol-branded merchandise, according to HealthDay.
They were then shown 20 images from popular alcohol TV ads, and 20 ads for fast food, with the brand names removed. They were asked if they remembered the ads, liked them and knew about which products were being advertised.
Overall, 59 percent of the teens said they drank, and 49 had engaged in binge drinking (had more than six drinks in a row) at least once in the past year. Teens who drank were much more likely to be familiar with TV alcohol ads compared with their peers who didn’t drink, the study found. Owning alcohol-branded merchandise or having a favorite alcohol ad was associated with more hazardous drinking.
“At present, the alcohol industry employs voluntary standards to direct their advertising to audiences comprised of adults of legal drinking age,” study lead author Dr. Susanne Tanski said in a news release. “Our findings of high levels of familiarity with alcohol ads demonstrate that underage youth still frequently see these ads. While this study cannot determine which came first, the exposure to advertising or the drinking behavior, it does suggest that alcohol advertising may play a role in underage drinking, and the standards for alcohol ad placement perhaps should be more strict.”