Most people assume that men drink more alcohol than women. Research shows that theory to be true for the over 21 (legal to drink) population.
An interesting and troubling fact is that the trend is reversed for young girls and boys. When 8th graders are polled about their lifestyle choices, more girls than boys admit to consuming alcohol within the last 30 days. More girls than boys also admit to engaging in “binge drinking” which is defined as consuming more than five alcoholic drinks on the same occasion.
As young teens age, the gap shrinks before the trend reverses as teens enter adulthood (age 18, still not legal age for alcohol consumption).
One explanation is the advertisements. Producers of alcoholic drinks frequently advertise in magazines that are sold to teens. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that girls age 12-20 (all underage girls) were exposed to 68% MORE beer advertisement than their over 21 adult women counterparts. Boys between 12 and 20 also saw 29% more beer ads than men 21 or over. Girls saw 30% more ads than 21+ women for distilled spirits while boys and men saw about the same amount. Perhaps the most troublesome finding is that girls who are not yet of legal drinking age saw NINETY-FIVE PERCENT (95%) more ads than legal aged women for low-alcohol refreshers, also called alcopops, malternatives, or chick beer.
The advertisements have increased in frequency and are flooding magazines that young girls tend to buy. In 2002, girls’ exposure to magazine-based alcohol ads increased 216% compared to the year before. Boys’ exposure increased only 46% (still very significant) in their magazines. Sixteen alcohol brands made up more than half of the ads to which girls between 12 and 20 were exposed.
While girls continue to consume more alcohol, they also continue to have the most frequent, long-lasting, and immediate consequences for giving in to the walls of alcohol advertisements.
– girls and women are more susceptible to alcohol induced health problems related to the heart, brain, and/or liver
– women and men metabolize alcohol different so women may gain more weight than men as a result of consuming the booze-based calories
– several analyses have found that female consumption of alcohol increases the chances of developing breast cancer – a trend not matched with men
– teenage girls who are identified as binge drinkers are 63% more likely to become teen mothers than girls who do not drink
– in prisons, a survey revealed that 40% of sexual offenders assaulted women while they were under the influence of alcohol
– in domestic violence calls, 67% involve an abuser who consumed alcohol
If alcohol companies claim they are not advertising to teens; not targeting underage youth to begin or continue to drink, why would they advertise in magazines primarily purchased and viewed by that exact population? Is it ethical for magazine publishers and distributors to sell ad space to booze pushers when they know the purchasers of their magazines are largely underage youth? What could be done about it? Should the magazine producers be held accountable or is it the responsibility of the alcohol producer to be careful where they advertise?