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Alcohol Ads Linked To Underage And Binge Drinking

First Posted: Jan 20, 2015 10:41 AM EST

Some advertisements have the power to influence us a bit more than we think. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics looks at how watching alcohol advertisements can increase the risk of underage drinking and/or binge drinking.

Researchers at Giesel School of Medicine at Dartmouth conducted an experiment that examined how young minds were affected by alcohol ads.

The study, titled "Cued Recall of Alcohol Advertising on Television and Underage Drinking Behavior," looked at over 2,500 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 23 in the United States. Each participant was required to complete a longitudinal survey conducted over the phone and the Internet between 2011 and 2013.

The study showed participants alcohol ads that aired between 2010 and 2011, with each commercial digitally edited to remove branding.

The participants were then given an ad "receptivity" score that was based on a number of factors, including if they remembered the ad and were able to identify the brand used in the ad. 

Researchers also asked underage participants when they began drinking and how many times binge drinkers drank when they began drinking for the first time.

Findings revealed that those with higher receptivity scores were more likely to predict the onset of drinking in participants between the ages of 15 to 17. Furthermore, those who were able to better remember the ads were also more likely to drink sooner.

"It's very strong evidence that underage drinkers are not only exposed to the television advertising, but they also assimilate the messages," said James D. Sargent, co-author of the study. "That process moves them forward in their drinking behavior."

Some are simply unaware just how much adolescents are exposed to alcohol through various television and magazine advertisements.

Researchers reiterate the importance of addressing the issue as underage drinking is linked to 4,500 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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