Alcohol companies target youths with magazine ads, new study shows

Dec 02, 2009

Alcoholic beverages popular among youths are more likely to be advertised in magazines with high youth readership than alcoholic drinks consumed mainly by adults, resulting in disproportionately high youth exposure to such targeted alcohol ads, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Virtual Media Resources who conducted the study -- published in this month's issue of the -- say their findings present the strongest evidence to date that alcohol companies are targeting youths through magazine advertising.

They note that three major trade associations representing the alcoholic beverage industry - the Wine Institute, the Beer Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States - have publicly stated that they do not advertise to underage youths.

"Alcohol companies are deceiving us," said Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and a co-author of the study. "Contrary to their public statements, they are targeting youths through their advertising. They are saying one thing, but doing another."

The study compared alcohol advertisement placements in 118 magazines from 2002 to 2006, specifically looking at the relationship between a magazine's readership and the probability of youth alcoholic beverage types -- defined as those consumed by a large proportion of youth -- being advertised in each magazine.

The researchers found that in magazines with the highest levels of youth readership, youth alcoholic beverage types (e.g., premium beer, low calorie beer, rum, vodka, and flavored alcohol beverages) were more than four times more likely to be advertised than non-youth types (e.g., gin, brandy, whiskey, and scotch). As youth readership increased in a magazine, so did the number of youth alcoholic beverage advertisements.

The researchers identified a total of 13,513 alcohol advertisements in the 118 sample magazines during the five-year study period. While 23.1% of advertisements for non-youth/adult alcoholic beverages appeared in magazines with high youth readership, 42.9% of advertisements for youth alcoholic beverage types were placed in the same magazines.

"The percentage of a magazine's youth readers was an important predictor of which alcoholic beverages were advertised in a magazine," the authors said.

The researchers noted that previous studies examining the issue of targeted advertising were limited by the problem of "lumping together types of alcohol that are and are not consumed frequently by underage youths." In this study, the researchers used 2006 data on alcohol use among 18- to 20-year-olds that was collected as part of a large national survey called the Survey of the American Consumer.

The study notes that in 2005, the alcohol industry spent $4 billion overall in advertising and promotion. "The question of whether this advertising is disproportionately reaching and influencing underage youths (under 21 years old) lies at the heart of the debate about interventions to reduce youth drinking," the authors wrote.

More information: The study is available at www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(09)00125-6/abstract

Source: Boston University Medical Center

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Advertising Child's Play

Dec 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Children on their way to school are five times more likely to see the advertising of soft drinks, alcohol, ice-cream and confectionary than ads for healthy foods.

Study: Ads influence kids' drinking

May 03, 2007

U.S. researchers have determined children's exposure to alcohol advertising during early adolescence influences their later drinking habits.

Science Behind Health Benefits of Moderate Beer Consumption

Oct 10, 2006

There is mounting scientific evidence that moderate consumption of beer or other alcoholic beverages -- defined by the government as one to two servings daily -- may actually have health benefits over not consuming alcohol ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

17 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_B
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2009
If you are old enough to die for your country (soldiers etc.) then you are old enough to be tempted by booze, beer and wine.

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.