Too many young Americans
are watching television ads for beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks, a new
The number and frequency of
such ads exceeds the industry's own voluntary standard, said researchers from
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Under that standard, which
was adopted in 2003, alcohol companies agreed not to place any ads on TV programs
when more than 30% of the audience was likely to be younger than 21.
If ads were curtailed to
meet that standard, the "payoff in terms of reduced risk of underage
drinking and harms related to it could be quite substantial," study author
David Jernigan, director of the school's Centre on Alcohol Marketing and Youth,
said in a Hopkins news release.
In the study, Jernigan's
team looked at 2010 data from 25 of the largest TV markets in the country. They
found that nearly one in four alcohol ads on a sample of programmes most popular
with viewers aged 12-20 exceeded the alcohol industry's voluntary standard.
The percentage of alcohol
ads that exceeded the voluntary standard was highest in Houston (31.5%), followed
by Los Angeles (30%), Dallas (29.7%), Atlanta (27.6%) and Chicago (27.5%).
A real threat to kids' health
If this advertising were
eliminated and not replaced, total youth exposure to alcohol ads on these
programmes would drop by as much as one-third, the researchers said
harms teens, their families and their communities," CDC Director Dr Tom
Frieden added in the news release. "Exposing teens to alcohol advertising
undermines what parents and other concerned adults are doing to raise healthy
Another expert agreed that
alcohol is a real threat to kids' health.
"Alcohol use amongst
teenagers is prevalent, and continues to account for the third leading causing
of death among teenagers," noted Dr Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief
of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York. "I have seen
many youths place themselves at risk with excessive binge drinking, without
realising the serious consequences of what may occur."
"should not be allowed to violate their voluntary standard, especially
with programmes geared to the underage population," he added. "Youth
are more likely to model after these advertisements, which ultimately can
result in serious implications."
Alcohol remains the most
commonly used drug among young Americans and accounts for an estimated 4 700
deaths among underage youth in the United States each year. Studies show that
exposure to alcohol marketing increases the risk that underage youth will begin
drinking, and drink more if they do start drinking.
The study was published in
the CDC's journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The US Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration offers advice on how to prevent underage