De Bruijn: Online alcohol marketing linked to drinking among European teens

26 May 2016

Adolescents in Europe may be just as susceptible to online alcohol marketing as their counterparts elsewhere, according to a recent study in four countries that links the ads with kids’ likelihood of drinking and of binge drinking. Lead author Avalon de Bruijn of the European Center for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing: "Alcohol marketing seems unavoidable on the Internet. It was a surprise to me that the impact of online advertising was so strong and the exposure so high among young people in these countries."

The researchers surveyed more than 9,000 students around age 14 at schools in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. About 4,500 kids said they never drank alcohol and were categorized as non-drinkers; all others were categorized as drinkers. In addition, one quarter of all the participants said that they had five or more drinks at once in the past 30 days and were classified as binge drinkers.

In each country, higher exposure to online alcohol marketing was tied to greater odds of being a drinker and of binge drinking, according to the results in Alcohol and Alcoholism. "All types of alcohol advertising have been tied in past research to higher levels of drinking," de Bruijn said. "However, the impact of online alcohol marketing is especially influential. This might be explained by the interactive and personalized character of online alcohol advertising."

"In most EU countries the volume of online alcohol advertisements in not regulated by law and only by insufficient voluntary codes by the alcohol industry," de Bruijn said. "There is a responsibility of EU Member States and the European Union to regulate this in order to protect children and adolescents against harmful exposure to online alcohol advertisements."

* Abstract: here.



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