The study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows a link between underage drinkers’ brand preferences and marketing expenditures. This points to a marketing influence on young people’s choice of alcoholic beverages. Also, higher rates of binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks at one sitting) among adolescents who had a favorite brand suggests that alcohol advertising campaigns may influence the chance that alcohol will be consumed at levels that pose a health risk.

Published by Dartmouth Medical School and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health the findings of the study are derived from a phone survey of 2,699 young people (ages 16 to 20). The authors write that the favorite brand among underage females was Smirnoff and for underage males, Budweiser. The most popular brand of alcohol for adolescent drinkers surveyed, was Smirnoff.

Webwire quotes co-author David Jernigan, PhD, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: ‘This study shows that the alcohol industry is affecting kids’ preferences about drinking […] Despite alcohol industry promises to shield young people from their advertising, youth exposure to alcohol advertising particularly on television has grown by leaps and bounds.’

Susanne Tanski the lead author says the association between having a favorite brand and binge drinking is disturbing: ‘It suggests that the ‘drink responsibly’ message is being swamped by other advertising messages that associate alcohol brands with partying and drinking to excess. For example, one recent advertisement showed how many shots of rum there are in a half gallon of Captain Morgan rum.’

Of the youngsters that were interviewed, 26 percent of the boys and 16 percent of the girls reported drinking five or more drinks in a row in the past 30 days. Almost three quarters of the respondents had a favorite brand of alcohol, naming 158 brands in all. More than half pointed out a distilled spirit brand as their favorite.

“Reducing young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising has to be part of our national agenda for preventing and reducing underage drinking. The current standards governing where and when this industry advertises its products are determined by the industry; self-regulation is clearly not protecting young people from marketing influence,” Jernigan told Webwire.

Source: Webwire 6/6/11

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