Kids Ignore Warnings On Liquor Ads and Bottles

A study from Brigham Young University indicates that children do not bother with warning labels that appear in magazine advertisements and on liquor bottles.

The federal government requires liquor companies provide use warnings that say drinking increases risks for birth defects, causes impairment when operating machines, etc.

The BYU researchers, led by Professor Steve Thomsen, tracked the corneas of 63 middle school-aged children as they looked at bottles and magazine ads. The average time spent reading labels was seven seconds. Afterward the children could not recall what the labels said.

“We have to ask, “Are the labels effective?”” Dr. Thomsen said. “And if not, what can we do to make them more effective?

Lisa Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Counsel, said the study was flawed because such warnings are not aimed at children.

“There is no such thing as drinking responsibly when you’re under 21,” she said.

The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Teens Buy One-Fourth of Alcohol Consumed in the United States

Parents often believe that television shows depicting teenagers drinking alcoholic beverages are unrealistic. However, it may be the parents who are unrealistic about their children’s lifestyles, according to research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Shows like “Gossip Girl” which features wealthy teenagers drinking vodka at Manhattan bars may be accurately reflecting current lifestyles.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that one-fourth of beer and alcohol sold in this country goes to underage drinkers.

Although the percentage of American teenagers using drugs and alcohol has gone down in the past five years, the numbers who smoke, drink or use drugs is still in the hundreds of thousands.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in conjunction with a survey of 60,000 people by the National Survey on Drug Use released a new report this week. The report notes that on any given day in the United States:

  • 1.2 million teens smoke (4,000 for the first time);
  • 631,000 drink (8,000 for the first time);
  • 586,000 use marijuana (3,600 for the first time);
  • 50,000 use inhalants;
  • 27,000 use hallucinogens;
  • 13,000 use cocaine; and
  • 3,800 use heroin.

More than 76,000 children ages 12 to 17 years are in outpatient treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, and another 10,000 are in non-hospital residential treatment.

Dr. Norman Constantin, program director of the Public Health Institute’s Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development in Berkeley, California, said, “Alcohol is a reality in the lives of young Americans. Our drinking age of 21 eliminates the opportunity for parents to legally teach safe drinking to teenagers. This missed opportunity can lead to unsafe and immoderate drinking, especially on college campuses. Most teens benefit from being taught how not to drink, together with how to drink safely and moderately when and if they do drink. Both skills are critically important.”

Alcohol-Abusers Wait Eight Years to Be Treated

A new government study found that the vast majority of people who abuse alcohol do not get treatment. Those who do get treatment wait an average of eight years.

 Researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that only 24% of those who abuse alcohol seek treatment – a percentage that has declined since 1997. The average person who abuses alcohol begins drinking before age 22, but does not seek treatment until age 30.

The definition of alcohol abuse is drinking-related failure to perform at school, work or home; social or legal problems related to drinking and drinking in at-risk situations. Alcoholism means compulsive drinking, being preoccupied with thoughts of drinking, and having withdrawal symptoms. About 4.7% Americans abuse alcohol; 3.8% are alcoholics.

Bridget Grant and other authors of this study believe that people do not seek treatment because many people, including doctors, do not believe that treatment works. However, Dr. Mark Willenbring, director of the institutes Division of Treatment and Recovery Research, said that treatment for alcohol abuse is more effective that most treatments for other medical conditions. It usually involves counseling, 12-Step programs, behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and drugs.

Teens With Too Much Money More Likely to Drink Heavily

A British study of more than 10,000 teenagers found that those with the most money are more likely to drink alcohol regularly.

Professor Mark Bellis advised parents to limit their teenagers’ allowances and assess to income from part-time jobs.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University looked at 10,200 teens ages 15 to 16 years. Over 90% reported drinking within the past six months, 38% were binge drinkers, and 25% drank alcohol more than twice a week. Teens with allowances of 30 pounds or more were twice as likely to be binge drinkers and to drink at least twice a week. Those who had allowances of 10 pounds or more per week were 50% more likely to binge drink.

British teenagers are some of Europe’s heaviest drinkers. Professor Bellis said that the study indicates that simply limiting a teen’s access to money could help solve the problem.

The study appeared in the journal, Substance Abuse Treatment and Policy.

Teen Drinking Linked to Adult Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers in Berkeley, California have come up with still another reason teens should not drink: it’s linked to being overweight in adult life.

Dr. Maria Russell and her colleagues at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation studied the lifetime drinking habits of 2,800 adults, now age 35 to 80 years old. Those who had started drinking in early life and drank heavily as teenagers were 48% more likely to be abdominally obese as adults, suffer high blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. These conditions can lead to heart disease.

Dr. Russell said excessive drinking damages body cells over time.

“Long-term health consequences may be another reason for encouraging young people to avoid heavy drinking,” she said.

This study appears in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

 Drinking Parents Less Likely to Monitor their Kids’ Drinking

The drinking behaviors of parents influence not only their child’s drinking but also how much they monitor their children’s drinking, according to a new study from the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Researchers interviewed over 4,800 teens and their parents when the teens were age 14 years and again at age 17.5.

They found that the more parents used alcohol and became intoxicated themselves, the less likely they were to monitor their children’s drinking behaviors or to discipline them. That decrease in parental monitoring was linked to teens using more alcohol at age 14 and becoming more frequently intoxicated by age 17.5.

However, excessive discipline was linked to increased drinking by teens.

“Although these findings are consistent with the protective effects of parental monitoring, it is important to note that excessive discipline may actually have the unintended effect of conveying great risk for alcohol-related behaviors among adolescents as they get older and are seeking a greater sense of autonomy,” according to author Shawn Latendresse.

Parental monitoring and discipline had the greatest effect during early adolescence.

This study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.