New research suggests that seeing beer and liquor ads on TV may promote drinking as early as seventh grade and leads to alcohol-related problems just a few years later. The American study describes that the more ad exposure teenage participants reported, the more they drank by 10th grade.

Not only did the volume of exposure influence drinking behavior, but also the level at which participants enjoyed the commercials seemed to be of importance. Early drinking is in turn associated with the development of alcohol-related problems by 10th grade, said lead researcher Jerry Grenard. “Examples of problems include failing to do homework, attending school drunk, passing out and getting into fights,” said Grenard associate professor in the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University in California.

The study in question, published in the journal Pediatrics is based on questionnaires from nearly 4,000 seventh graders, who were followed all through 10th grade. In the meanwhile, the students were asked questions about consumption of beer, wine or liquor and exposure to alcohol advertising. Analysis of the data showed that especially female seventh graders who watched these ads were more likely to start drinking. The research also suggest that boys who liked the advertisements were more likely to develop alcohol-related problems.

According to Granard children should be better armed against alcohol marketing, through media literacy: “Parents and schools should teach children about the design of persuasive messages in the media to help them avoid undue influence by the media on their behaviors.”

The full text article can be viewed on the website of Pediatrics

Source:  Healthday 01/28/13

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