"This study is a first look at the association between alcohol-branded merchandise and initiation of alcohol use in teens," said Dr. Auden McClure, clinical instructor in pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and lead author of the study. "Our research found that students who owned an alcohol-branded item were significantly more likely to have initiated alcohol use than students who did not own one," she said. "We recommend that parents discourage their children from wearing these products and that schools limit the display of alcohol-branded items among students."
Over 2,000 Northern New England middle school students, ages 10-14 took part in the study in 1999 and were surveyed to determine if they drank alcohol. From that group, students who said they had not used alcohol were followed up 1 to 2 years later with a phone interview that asked about their drinking, that of their peers, and whether they owned alcohol-branded merchandise (such as a t-shirt or a hat with an alcohol name on it). At follow up, 15% of baseline never drinkers had started using alcohol and 14% owned an item with an alcohol brand or logo on it. Rate of drinking among those who owned a branded item was 25.5%, compared to 13.1% of those who did not own a branded item. The study concluded that even after controlling for other risk factors for drinking, students who owned alcohol-branded merchandise were 1.5 times more likely to initiate drinking than students who did not.
"This study raises concern about the relationship between the products that promote alcohol brands and early-onset teen drinking," said McClure, a practicing pediatrician at Dartmouth
Contact: Andy Nordhoff
Dartmouth Medical School