Outdoor alcohol advertising and problem drinking among African-American women in NYC

Jan 12, 2009

New research conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health indicates that the advertising of alcohol in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of New York City may add to problem drinking behavior among residents. Prior studies have shown that alcohol advertisements are disproportionately located in African- American neighborhoods, but the impact of such advertising on alcohol consumption has been unclear. The study is currently published online by the American Journal of Public Health.

Participants were 139 African-American women between the ages of 21-49 who resided in Central Harlem. The women were eligible to participate if they reported having at least one alcoholic beverage per month for the past six months, but had no history of a formal medical diagnosis of alcohol or substance abuse. Of the sample, 31% were reported to be problem drinkers, defined in the study as endorsing behaviors such as needing a drink first thing in the morning or feeling guilty about drinking.

The Mailman School researchers examined the relationship between alcohol advertisements in the women's neighborhood blocks and being a problem drinker. The findings showed that both exposure to alcohol advertising and a family history of alcoholism were related to being a problem drinker. But even after the researchers statistically controlled for the effect of having a family history of alcoholism, exposure to advertisements was significantly related to problem drinking. While the advertisements did not target women in particular, the language, imagery, and themes clearly targeted African-American people, the researchers noted.

"We found that, on average, exposure to each alcohol ad in a woman's residential block was associated with a 13% increase in the odds of being a problem drinker," says Naa Oyo Kwate, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School, and the principal investigator of the study. "This finding is significant for public health because residents in the study area were highly exposed to alcohol advertisements, and the associations between exposure and outcome persisted after we controlled for other potential causes of problem drinking."

"Because we did not assess participants' perceptions about the advertising content, or how salient it was for them, the mechanisms by which outdoor advertisements affected problem drinking remain unknown," suggests Ilan Meyer, PhD, associate professor of clinical Sociomedical Sciences and a co-author of the article. "Advertisements may prime people for alcohol consumption, and in turn, high levels of consumption may increase the risk for abuse and dependence."

"Advertisements also may increase the likelihood of problematic drinking patterns among individuals who are already susceptible. That is, individuals who are at risk for, or already contending with, alcohol abuse or dependence may be more likely to continue this behavior in an environment where cues that promote alcohol use are prominent," notes Dr. Meyer. The Mailman School team believes that future study is needed to further investigate possible pathways to problem drinking and the role that exposure to advertisements may play in causing drinking problems.

Dr. Kwate also noted that according to other earlier research, residents often perceive these advertisements to be unfairly marketed toward African American individuals and represent a deliberate targeting scheme for products that damage health. "Thus, to the extent that these advertisements are perceived as manifestations of racism, they may increase the odds of problem drinking," she says.

To access the paper online: www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstr… t/AJPH.2007.132217v1

Source: Columbia University

Explore further: CDC charges Johns Hopkins to lead development of Ebola training module

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

2 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

2 hours ago

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

Icelandic volcano sits on massive magma hot spot

2 hours ago

Spectacular eruptions at Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland have been spewing lava continuously since Aug. 31. Massive amounts of erupting lava are connected to the destruction of supercontinents and ...

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

3 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

NBCUniversal settles with unpaid interns for $6.4M

4 hours ago

NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on "Saturday Night Live" and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments : 0