The researchers noted that the study did not determine whether or not alcohol advertisers were targeting teens on purpose.
"The alcohol industry has consistently denied actively targeting teens, and our study isn't designed to test that claim," lead study author Dr. Paul J. Chung, assistant professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and a senior natural scientist at the RAND Corp, stated in the news release. "However, the ultimate effect of their advertising strategies, intentional or not, appears to be greater exposure than might be expected if adults were the sole targets of ads."
Adolescent alcohol abuse is a serious problem in the United States, according to the study. Research has shown adolescents who abuse alcohol have a greater likelihood of problem drinking later in life.
Other research suggests that alcohol ads can influence underage drinking.
"It's difficult to document experimentally," Chung added. "But there's not too much doubt that advertising and marketing affect the behavior of both children and adults. Common sense tells us that if it didn't work, companies probably wouldn't be spending so much money on it."
Advertising designed to make alcohol look cool, tasty and fun makes it more difficult for parents, teachers and clinicians to successfully teach kids to abstain, Chung added.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has more on underage drinking.
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