advertisement
15 March 2011

Wealthier teens drink more

While poverty is usually associated with greater health risks, a study suggests that young teens from middle- to higher-income families may be more likely to use alcohol.

0

While poverty is usually associated with greater health risks, a study suggests that young teens from middle- to higher-income families may be somewhat more likely than less affluent kids to use alcohol.

UK researchers found that among 5,837 thirteen-year-olds, those from the poorest families were the least likely to have tried liquor.

When the researchers divided the teens into five income groups, those in the lowest bracket were 22% less likely than the middle bracket to have had a drink in the past 6 months. They were similarly less likely to admit to binge-drinking.

But the higher a mother's education level, the less likely her child was to drink.

The results, published in Paediatrics, point to a complex relationship between socioeconomics and teen drinking, the researchers say.

Easy access

They speculate that teenagers from wealthier families may have easier access to alcohol. But when mothers have more education, they may be more likely to emphasise the importance of a healthy lifestyle to their kids.

Whatever the reasons for the findings, the researchers say they reinforce the fact that all parents should be aware of the problem of early drinking –but maybe particularly so in higher income families.

"More advantaged families tend to have healthier behaviour," in general, lead author Roberto Melotti, of the University of Bristol, said. "Our results indicate an example where this is not the case."

At age 13, many kids who drink may get the alcohol from their own house, Melotti noted. So parents may want to make sure any alcohol is locked away, he said.

The findings are based on interviews with 13-year-olds taking part in a larger, long-term health study. Overall, one-quarter said they had ever had alcohol without permission, while one-fifth said they had ever "binged" –consumed three or more drinks in a day.

Overall results

Overall, kids in the lowest income groups were less likely to report drinking, even when the researchers factored in parents' occupations and education levels.

Teenagers whose mothers had higher education levels were also somewhat less likely to drink, regardless of income bracket. When mothers had a college degree, kids were 13% to 40% less likely to have had a drink in the past six months, versus their peers whose mothers had less than a high school education.

The findings were different when it came to smoking, however. The 13-year-olds from lower income families were slightly more likely to admit to ever trying smoking, a pattern that is in line with results of past studies, according to the researchers.

Overall, 16% of boys and 22% of girls in the UK study admitted to ever smoking.

In a 2009 survey on risky behaviours by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% of American high school students admitted to having tried smoking a cigarette before age 13. Among 8th graders, between 30% and 60% (depending on the state) said they had had "more than a few sips" of alcohol.

(Reuters Health, Amy Norton, March 2011)

Read more:

Three year old alcoholic

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X

More:

TeenNews
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

The debate continues »

Working out in the concrete jungle 7 top butt exercises for guys 10 things pole dancing can do for you

The running vs. walking debate

There are many different theories when it comes to the running vs. walking for health and weight loss.

Veganism a crime? »

Running the Comrades Marathon on a vegan diet Are vegans unnatural beasts? Can a vegan be really healthy?

Should it be a crime to raise a baby on vegan food?

After a number of cases of malnourishment in Italy, it may become a crime to feed children under 16 a vegan diet.