MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Seeing beer and liquor ads on TV may promote drinking as early as seventh grade and lead to alcohol-related problems just a few years later, a new study suggests.
The more ad exposure the teens reported -- and the more they enjoyed the commercials -- the more they drank by 10th grade, the researchers found.
"This study provides evidence that exposure to alcohol advertising in seventh grade and liking those alcohol advertisements on television is associated with higher levels of drinking in the eighth and ninth grades," said lead researcher Jerry Grenard, an associate professor in the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University in California.
This early drinking is in turn associated with the development of alcohol-related problems, such as fighting or academic decline, by 10th grade, he said.
"Examples of problems include failing to do homework, attending school drunk, passing out and getting into fights," Grenard said.
While the research doesn't prove that liquor advertising caused the drinking, Grenard said drinking by young teens was less prevalent before the heyday of TV liquor advertisements.
Policy makers should work with the alcohol industry to limit adolescents' exposure to alcohol advertising, Grenard added.
"Parents and schools should teach children about the design of persuasive messages in the media to help them avoid undue influence by the media on their behaviors," he said.
For the report, published online Jan. 28 in the journal Pediatrics, Grenard's team recruited nearly 4,000 seventh graders and questioned them about use of beer, wine or liquor and exposure to liquor advertising. They kept tabs on many of the students through 10th grade.
Overall, the more ads seventh graders watched and the more they liked them, the more they drank from seventh to 10th gr
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