A new study analysis through a systematic research dives into how the alcohol industry funds youth education programmes to disseminate discourses, ideas ad values favorable to their positions.
The researchers investigates teaching material from three school-based youth education initiatives focused on alcohol consumption and health harms: Drinkaware for Education, The Smashed Project (funded by Diageo), and Talk About Alcohol (Alcohol Education Trust).
The analysis found that:
- these materials drew from and presented discourses of personal responsibility, moderate alcohol consumption, and involved a narrowing of the problem definition and causes.
- causes of youth alcohol consumption were repeatedly presented as peer pressure and ‘poor choices’, with little or no mention of alcohol industry marketing or other practices.
- all programmes promoted familiarisation and normalisation of alcohol as a ‘normal’ adult consumer product which children must learn about and master how to use responsibly when older.
- the discourses constructed in these materials closely align with those of other alcohol industry corporate social responsibility discourses which employ selective presentation of harms, including misinformation about cancer, and ambiguous
They conclude that the alcohol industry sponsoring youth education programmes, serve industry interests and even promote moderate consumption while purportedly educating children about harms and influences of alcohol use. They further suggest that alcohol education materials should be developed independent from industry, including funding, and should empower children and young people to understand and think critically about alcohol.
Citation: van Schalkwyk, M. C. I., Petticrew, M., Maanl, N., Hawkins, B., Bonell, C., Katikireddi, S. V., & Knal, C. (2022). Distilling the curriculum: an analysis of alcohol industry-funded school-based youth education programmes. PlosONE, 17(1), 1-30. 10.1371/journal.pone.0259560