Teens Prefer Liquor to Beer, Hardly Touch Wine

Release Date: March 8, 2011 | By Sylviane Duval, Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine

HBNS: Teens Prefer Liquor to Beer, Hardly Touch Wine
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Nearly half of American teen drinkers would rather have a shot of liquor than a bottle of beer, a new study finds. The golden brew and malt beverages only come a distant second and third, and wine barely registers on the radar. Teens who prefer liquor are much more likely to indulge in high-risk behavior, like binge drinking, drinking and driving, smoking tobacco or marijuana and having multiple sexual partners, researchers also found.

The study, which covered 7,723 teens ages 12 to 18 in eight states, uses data from the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Researchers found that boys were more likely to prefer liquor and beer than girls, and that teens “graduate” to liquor and beer from malt beverages — such as Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Silver or Hard Lemonade — and wine coolers as they get older. African-Americans and Hispanic teens preferred malt beverages to beer, but not to liquor.

“The number of liquor advertisements on TV has increased dramatically,” said lead study author, Michael Siegel, M.D., of the Boston University School of Public Health. “So it’s not surprising that liquor has become very popular among underage drinkers and surpasses beer as the alcoholic beverage of choice.”

The study appears online and in the April 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Siegel said he does not believe that the type of alcohol teens consume affects their health directly. However, indirectly, the drinking patterns associated with the different types do have a strong influence.

“The study results suggest that youth might initiate drinking with sweeter, more-flavored alcoholic beverages like malt beverages and wine coolers, and that they progress toward harder alcoholic drinks, like beer and hard liquor — and the high-risk behavior,” he said.

“Any time MADD sees a study showing the prevalence of teen drinking, we are concerned about the health and safety of America’s youth and the harmful effects on their decision-making ability,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The group reports that underage drinking kills 6,000 people in the United States each year.

A solution could lie in the way alcohol is marketed to teens. Wine, for instance, is not advertised heavily in teen-oriented media and does not appear to be part of their partying and drinking scene, all factors that might contribute to its lack of popularity. Siegel said that restricting advertising for malt beverages and wine coolers in youth-oriented media could have a dramatic effect on overall youth drinking.

“The association between drinking hard liquor and increased risky behaviors is not surprising,” said Pat Paluzzi, head of the Healthy Teen Network. “It is often the same group of youth who engage in multiple risky behaviors, and this relationship is especially true for drinking and unsafe sexual practices. If this study leads to more effective prevention and intervention measures, the impact could go beyond what these authors note.”

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For More Information:

Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at (202) 387-2829 or hbns-editor@cfah.org.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Contact the editorial office at (858) 534-9340 or eAJPM@ucsd.edu.

Siegel MD, et al. Alcoholic beverage preferences and associated drinking patterns and risk behaviors among high school youth. Am J Prev Med 40(4), 2011.

Tags for this article:
Alcohol/Drug Abuse   Get Preventive Health Care   Children and Young People's Health   Peer Influence  

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ye haa says
May 12, 2013 at 1:55 AM

Aidan Clark
Drinking Age

When prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, the job of determining a minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) was left to the state. At first, the majority of the states elected to have 18 serve as the drinking age. Only a select few states set their drinking age at 21. Then, in 1971, the 26th amendment lowered the voting age from 21 down to just 18 (All Amendments). Following this new law, the majority of the states, 30 to be exact. lowered their Drinking age to just 18 as well (State History). In the years following, The United states saw significant increases in both teen drinking rates, and drunk driving accidents.
This was cause for major concern, as alcohol related accidents quickly became the leading cause of death among teens (Century Council). Organization such as MADD and SADD became heavily involved in these newly developing issues. Groups such as these began calling for the drinking age to be raised up to 21 once again. Eventually, congress also began to support the idea of raising the MLDA. In 1984, congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act (APIS). Though this act didn’t directly force states to raise their drinking age to 21, it did threaten to cut federal highway funding to all states that refused to do so. In 1988, just four years after the National Minimum Legal Drinking Age Act was passed, all 50 states had adopted the 21 year old minimum drinking age (State History).
In recent years, there have been many groups and individuals that are calling for the return of MLDA 18. Given the statistics however, it would be completely irresponsible of the United States to set it MLDA back to 18 again. Keeping the minimum legal drinking age at 21 is unquestionably the correct path to chose. Not only will this minimum age allow teens brains to develop fully and correctly, but it will also help to prevent traffic accidents and binge drinking among individuals under the age of 21, thus reducing the overall number of teen alcohol related accidents.
Adolescence and young adulthood are very important times for both physical and mental development in humans. Individuals of this age are also entering a time of great social change. Some teens might begin experimenting with alcohol in an attempt to fit in with the rest of the crowd. According to a recent survey,

The dangers of MLDA 18 are many, and it takes but a cursory investigation to realize just how many lives are lost due to drinking before age 21. Take, for example, Gary DeVercelly, an 18 year old business administration student at Rider University in New Jersey. While in a fraternity house, DeVercelly had consumed three quarters of a bottle of vodka in less than 15 minutes. He was in a state of cardiac arrest, and was briefly revived, before dying in hospital two days later