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Parents Worry That 'Alcopops' Encourage Teen Drinking

The flavored drinks should carry warning labels, survey respondents say

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Flavored alcoholic beverages -- dubbed alcopops -- contribute to underage drinking and should carry warning labels, say many American adults who took part in a new national survey.

"Alcopops are sweet drinks made to taste like cola or soda pop or punch or lemonade. Typically, alcopops have between 5 and 8 percent alcohol content, which is a little bit more than most beers, and they're marketed to look like familiar drinks to kids," Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, said in a news release.

The survey of 2,100 adults, ages 21 and older, found that 52 percent believe alcopops definitely or probably encourage underage drinking, and that 92 percent strongly support the use of warning labels on alcopops. Most of the respondents also favor greater restrictions on alcopop advertising that focuses on youth.

"We also found in this poll that about 75 percent of adults in the United States are concerned underage drinking is a problem," Davis said. "Underage drinking in the U.S. is pretty common. About 20 percent of eighth graders and 40 percent of 12th graders drink. Those numbers are actually lower than in the mid-90s but they're still high when you consider the problems that can come from underage drinking."

Among the survey's other findings:

  • 84 percent of respondents support banning alcopop ads from youth Web sites.
  • 80 percent support banning alcopop ads from youth magazines.
  • 75 percent support banning alcopop billboards from within 500 feet of a school or park.
  • 59 percent support banning alcopop ads during primetime television.
  • 58 percent support prohibiting alcopop sponsorship of college sporting events.
  • 57 percent support limiting alcopop ads during televised sporting events.

"There is a lot of action in state legislatures regarding alcopops or flavored alcoholic beverages. Many states are considering legislation and some have enacted legislation to limit advertising and otherwise change how alcopops are presented to the public," Davis said.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is part of the University of Michigan Health System.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about underage drinking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, April 6, 2009

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