Teens Who Watch TV Ads for Alcohol Are More Likely to Drink

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.”

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    Peter Wolczuk

    May 5, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    The first thing that I wondered about was whether the high risk teens had seen the ads so much, partly because those ads had been placed in tv shows that heavy indulgers of alcohol tended to (or were likely to) watch on a regular basis.
    While a potential to become long term alcoholics could inspire a strong focus on the message of these ads; the answer to this alcohol ad link to a proven mind set could show how much a culture of alcohol abuse exists, along with an overwhelming desire to escape from such things as non-physical pain and an attitude toward confusion with learning life and social skills. It seems to me that such attitudes, among young people, would probably defy any logic, personal ethics, loyalties or anything that may get in the way of escaping the unpleasant state of personal mind, emotions and spirit.

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