New study found TV advertising influences how much alcohol kids use, not just what kind of alcohol they use
The more brand-specific alcohol advertising that young people are exposed to, the higher their consumption of those brands, according to a new study led by researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).
The study, entitled “Amount of Televised Alcohol Advertising Exposure and the Quantity of Alcohol Consumed by Youth” was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in October. It found an association between past-year exposure to advertising, measured in what the researchers call “adstock” units, and consumption of the brands advertised.
More alcohol ads, more alcohol use
Every 100 adstock-unit increase in exposure was associated with an increase of six drinks consumed during the past 30 days, while exposures of 300 or more adstock units were associated with an increase of 55.7 drinks.
Among underage youth, the quantity of brand-specific advertising exposure is positively associated with the total quantity of consumption of those advertised brands, even after controlling for the consumption of non-advertised brands. Future research should examine exposure–consumption relationships longitudinally and in other media,” reads the Abstract conclusion by the researchers.
Study design and more findings
The study examines links between exposure to brand-specific TV advertising and alcohol use among a national sample of more than 1,000 youths, ages 13 to 20, who reported alcohol use in the past 30 days. Participants were surveyed about their past-month viewership of the 20 most popular non-sports shows that contained alcohol ads. They also were asked about their past-month consumption of the 61 brands in those advertisements.
Among study participants, the median number of alcoholic drinks consumed in the past 30 days was five. The average number of alcoholic drinks consumed increased from 14 to 33 per month as advertising exposure increased from zero to 300 adstock units. For participants exposed to 300 or more adstock units, per-person consumption skyrocketed from 33 alcoholic drinks to more than 200 alcoholic drinks consumed in the past 30 days.
The study estimates that the advertised brands accounted for almost 47% of all alcohol consumed by the young alcohol users, and that there was a “dose-response” relationship between exposure to ads and alcohol use levels.
Our findings indicate that the amount of exposure to television alcohol advertising is associated with the quantityof alcohol consumed by underage youth, not just which brands they consume.
This study should prompt a reevaluation of the industry’s self-regulatory framework in order to reduce advertising exposure among underage youth, particularly at higher levels,” the researchers conclude in their paper.
For further reading
Download the full study here.