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A bottle and three glasses of beer.

One, two , three... . Teens drink less often than adults, but on average, they have about five drinks on a single occasion.

Adolescents and alcohol ads

From eNews, August 16, 2007

Adolescents who attend schools in neighborhoods where alcohol advertisements are prominent experience heightened intentions to drink, a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida has discovered.

The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, recorded 931 alcohol advertisements within a 1,500-foot radius of 63 schools in the Chicago area. Students who were exposed to these advertisements in sixth grade were more likely to hold positive attitudes about alcohol and have higher intentions to drink by the time they reach eighth grade. Although more than 75 percent of the ads featured the alcohol's brand name or price only, students exposed to them were significantly more likely to exhibit increased intentions to drink, suggesting that advertisements do not need to be directed at children for them to internalize them.

"It is not just ads that are particularly appealing to youth that influence children's intentions to use alcohol," says Keryn Pasch, a researcher in the U's School of Public Health and first author of the study. "This study provides further evidence of the influence of advertisements on children. Even those students who had not tried alcohol at the start of the study were influenced by the alcohol advertisements."

According to previous research, adolescents' attitudes about alcohol generally predict their future behaviors. Youth who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking after age 18. Adolescents who start drinking early are more likely to become addicted to alcohol, smoke cigarettes, use drugs, and have trouble in school, previous studies show. About half of all teens have tried alcohol by the time they are 15.

Did you know?

Approximately 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they have used alcohol at least once. By age 13 that number doubles; by age 15, about 50 percent have had at least one drink.

Teens drink less often than adults. But when teens do drink, they drink more than adults. On average, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion.

Each year, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking, which includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 from homicides, and 300 from suicide.

For tips on how to prevent and reduce underage drinking, read "A Guide to Action for Families."

Source: U.S. Surgeon General's Office

Although there has been a significant decline in tobacco and illicit drug use among teens, underage drinking has remained at consistently high levels. The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates there are 11 million underage drinkers in the United States. Nearly 7.2 million are considered binge drinkers, typically meaning they drink more than five drinks on occasion, and more than 2 million are classified as heavy drinkers. In March, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking.

Pasch suggests that this high prevalence of youth drinking warrants more research on the causes of youth drinking and how to implement effective preventative efforts.

"Restrictions on alcohol advertising around schools are needed to reduce the influence that this type of advertising has on children," says Pasch.

After excluding 22 schools where there were no alcohol ads, researchers recorded an average of 28 ads in each school neighborhood; one school had more than 100.