Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Neighborhood Booze Ads May Boost Kids' Drinking

(HealthDay News) -- Neighborhood ads extolling alcohol may make eighth-graders more likely to want to try drinking, a new study finds.

In their research, a team from the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota counted the number of alcohol ads -- including billboards, bus stop signs and logo displays -- in neighborhoods around 63 Chicago schools.

They also surveyed sixth-graders about their attitudes toward alcohol and followed up with them again two years later, in eighth-grade.

Twenty-two of the schools had no alcohol advertising in their neighborhood. There was an average of 28 alcohol ads in the neighborhoods around the remaining 41 schools, with the highest count topping 100 ads in one neighborhood.

Kids from neighborhoods with lots of ads were not only more likely to say they would drink, but they were also less able to name reasons not to drink, the researchers found.

"The majority of the ads were just brand-information only," noted University of Florida epidemiologist Kelli A. Komro in a prepared statement. "Sometimes we think that those are not so powerful, but the majority of the ads we found were those kinds of ads and still we found the association with increased intentions to use alcohol."

The study data showed that the ads influenced youth who did not drink as well as those who had first tried alcohol before sixth-grade.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there are about 11 million underage drinkers in the United States, and teens who begin drinking before age 15 are more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life.

"I think results from this study and studies like this clearly indicate that there should be policies to ban alcohol advertising near the schools," Komro said in the prepared statement.

More information
For more on underage drinking, visit the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. .

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