New Brookes study shows alcohol adverts appeal to young

Friday, 13 February 2009

Review by Dr Lesley Smith and Prof David Foxcroft finds links between alcohol ads and underage drinking.

Alcohol adverts could lead to underage drinking, according to research from two Oxford Brookes academics.

A big study of more than 13,000 people by Professor David Foxcroft and Dr Lesley Smith (pictured) from the School of Health and Social Care suggests that ads and product placements, even those not directed at youngsters, lead to increased drinking.

Dr Smith and Professor Foxcroft pulled together information from seven studies in a review funded by the Alcohol and Education Research Council (AERC).

It is the first review studying the effects of advertising and product placement in films, sporting events and music videos as well as depictions of drinking and exposure to product stands in shops.

Dr Smith said: “Our work provides stronger empirical evidence to inform the policy debate on the impact of alcohol advertising on young people.”

They discovered that exposure to alcohol ads on TV was connected to an increased tendency to drink, as were magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events and concerts.

Time spent watching films and music videos also correlated with young peoples’ tendency to consume alcohol.

Dr Smith added: “All seven studies demonstrated significant effects…One showed that for each additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink increased by 9% during the following 18 months.

“Another found that for each additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was a 15% increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later.”

The authors, whose findings were published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, recommend that counter-advertising, social marketing techniques and other prevention measures such as parenting programmes, price increases and limiting availability may be useful to limit alcohol problems in young people.

You can read the paper here