Parents, keep teens away from alcohol-branded props
Adolescents who own T-shirts, hats and other merchandise with an alcohol brand name on it are more likely to begin drinking than kids who do not own these items, according to a study by Dartmouth Medical School researchers published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"This study is a first look at the association between alcohol-branded merchandise and initiation of alcohol use in teens," Dr Auden McClure, clinical instructor in pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and lead author of the study, was quoted as saying.
"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. We recommend that parents discourage their children from wearing these products and that schools limit the display of alcohol-branded items among students," she added.
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).
"This study raises concern about the relationship between the products that promote alcohol brands and earlyteen drinking," said McClure, a practicing pediatrician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre.
"We worry about early-onset drinking because these kids are more likely to go on to misuse alcohol when they reach high school," added Dr. James Sargent, professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and senior author on the study.
The most common category of alcohol-branded merchandise was an article of clothing, such as a t-shirt, hat, pants, or jacket (83 per cent). Remaining categories were bag/backpack (6 per cent), alcohol paraphernalia (2 per cent), wall decor (1 per cent), electronic item (1 per cent), and other miscellaneous (7 per cent).
The brand of alcohol was not asked. But of the 32 students, who volunteered the brand, promoted beer companies, wrote the researchers.