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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Television Advertising Associated With Underage Drinking

On non-premium television stations, every several minutes, viewers are exposed to advertising. While most advertisements are fairly benign in nature, there are many that are designed to entice the viewer into consuming a particular alcoholic beverage. Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults watch the most television, so it stands to reason that they are the age groups most exposed to alcohol advertising.

New research suggests that exposure and approval of alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking, binge drinking and hazardous drinking, Science Daily reports. The research was conducted at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) and Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD).

In 2011 and 2013, researchers conducted telephone- and web-based surveys with 2,541 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 23 years at baseline, with 1,596 completing a follow-up survey, according to the article. Using more than 300 television advertising images for top beer and distilled spirits brands, researchers analyzed the survey participants of the ads. An alcohol receptivity score was formulated based on the participant having seen the ad, liking it and correctly identifying the brand.

"The alcohol industry claims that their advertising self-regulation program protects underage youths from seeing their ads," said Susanne Tanski, CHaD pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. "Our study indicates that it does not."

"Alcohol companies claim their advertising does not affect underage drinking -- that instead it is parents and friends that are the culprits," said James D. Sargent, MD, senior author on the study and a CHaD pediatrician, the Scott M. and Lisa G. Stuart Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Geisel, and co-director of the NCCC Cancer Control Program. "This study suggests otherwise -- that underage youths are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing and this prompts initiation of drinking as well as transitions from trying to hazardous drinking." The findings were published by JAMA Pediatrics.

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