May 17, 2016
Middle school-age youth from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in the Los Angeles area indicated exposure to two to four alcohol advertisements per day, with girls and minority youth seeing more ads than their peers.
The purpose of this study was to quantify middle school youth's exposure to alcohol advertisements across media and venues, determine venues of greatest exposure, and identify characteristics of youth who are most exposed.
Over a 10-month period in 2013, 589 Los Angeles–area youth ages 11–14 from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds completed a short paper-and-pencil survey assessing background characteristics and then participated in a 14-day ecological momentary assessment, logging all exposures to alcohol advertisements on handheld computers as they occurred.
African American and Hispanic youth were exposed to an average of 4.1 and 3.4 advertisements per day, respectively, nearly two times as many as non-Hispanic White youth, who were exposed to 2.0 advertisements per day. Girls were exposed to 30% more advertisements than boys. Most exposures were to outdoor advertisements, with television advertisements a close second.
Exposure to alcohol advertising is frequent among middle school–age youth and may put them at risk for earlier or more frequent underage drinking. Greater restrictions on alcohol advertising outdoors and on television should be considered by regulators and by the alcohol industry and should focus particularly on reducing exposure among minority youth.