Positive response to alcohol ads in young adolescence associated with alcohol-related problems later

Feb 2nd – 7th graders who viewed and enjoyed televised alcohol ads were more likely to report alcohol-related problems by 10th grade.

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1. 7th graders who viewed and enjoyed televised alcohol ads were more likely to report alcohol-related problems by 10th grade.

2. Boys who liked alcohol ads more were particularly likely to develop alcohol-related problems, while girls who viewed more ads were particularly likely to consume more alcohol.

Young teenagers who enjoyed viewing televised alcohol ads were more likely to consume more alcohol and develop drinking-related problems in later adolescence. These results suggest the need for better alcohol education to combat positive stereotypes presented in alcohol ads, improved parental monitoring of what and how much TV teenagers watch, and increased regulation of alcohol ads on TV and elsewhere.

The population used – Los Angeles public school students – may have limited generalizability to other teenage populations. For example, private school students may experience less environmental stress levels as predicted by income and thus be inclined to drink less. Additionally, the results of this study are limited by the self-reporting of alcohol-related problems. Participants might underreport problems because of denial or motivation to report healthy behaviors. Notwithstanding, these results suggest that clinicians, parents, and policymakers should take steps to address the long-term effects of televised alcohol ads on adolescent drinking habits.

Click to read the study in Pediatrics

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1. 7th graders who viewed and enjoyed televised alcohol ads were more likely to report alcohol-related problems by 10th grade.

2. Boys who liked alcohol ads more were particularly likely to develop alcohol-related problems, while girls who viewed more ads were particularly likely to consume more alcohol.

This [prospective cohort] study: examined the effect of alcohol ads on drinking habits of 3,890 Los Angeles 7th graders at public schools over a four-year period. Outcomes included current alcohol use, exposure to alcohol ads, approval of alcohol ads, and problems associated with alcohol use such as number of times attending school while intoxicated.

Among 7th graders, viewing and approving of alcohol ads was positively correlated with reporting alcohol-related problems by the 10th grade and consuming more alcohol as they grew older. While this main effect held true for both genders, statistical models were most accurate in predicting greater alcohol use for girls who viewed more ads during popular TV shows and greater likelihood of alcohol-related problems for boys who reported more enjoyment of ads.

In sum: Young teenagers who enjoyed viewing televised alcohol ads were more likely to consume more alcohol and develop drinking-related problems in later adolescence. These results suggest the need for better alcohol education to combat positive stereotypes presented in alcohol ads, improved parental monitoring of what and how much TV teenagers watch, and increased regulation of alcohol ads on TV and elsewhere.

The population used – Los Angeles public school students – may have limited generalizability to other teenage populations. For example, private school students may experience less environmental stress levels as predicted by income and thus be inclined to drink less. Additionally, the results of this study are limited by the self-reporting of alcohol-related problems. Participants might underreport problems because of denial or motivation to report healthy behaviors. Notwithstanding, these results suggest that clinicians, parents, and policymakers should take steps to address the long-term effects of televised alcohol ads on adolescent drinking habits.

Click to read the study in Pediatrics

By Caroline Huang and Leah Hawkins

More from this author: Knowledge of breast cancer overdiagnosis changes attitudes toward treatment, screening, Pediatric providers who completed tobacco education program more likely to educate parental smokers about quitting, Minority of American children meet pediatric guidelines for both physical activity and screen-time viewing

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