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Apr 10, 2014 07:27 AM EDT

Researchers Establish Link between Alcohol Drinking and Musical Branding

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A latest University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found a strong link between binge drinking among teenagers and correctly identifying music that makes references to alcohol brand names.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of U.S. adolescents are current drinkers and roughly 22 percent are binge drinkers.

"Average exposure is about eight alcohol brand name mentions per day," Brian A. Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, and corresponding author for the study, said in a press release. "This is based on average exposure of 2.5 hours of music per day, with 3-4 brand mentions each hour. However, this is just an average. For some kids, it will be more, and for others it will be less."

Lisa Henriksen, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said that alcohol brand names are extensively mentioned in popular music.  Brand references in rap music have increased drastically from eight percent in 1979 to 44 percent in 1997.

"It would be foolish to think that the alcohol industry is unaware of and uninvolved with alcohol-brand mentions in music. The strategy of associating products with hip culture and celebrities who are attractive to youth comes straight from a playbook written by the tobacco industry," Henriksen said.

Out of 2,541 participants who took part in the study, 1,488 (59 percent) reported having a complete alcoholic drink ( 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor). Of the 59 percent, 18 percent reported binge drinking once a month and 37 percent reported suffering from alcohol related problems.

Primack, MD, PhD, and director of the Program for Research on Media and Health, said that an average adolescent comes across 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music. "It is important that we understand the impact of these references to alcohol brands in an age group that can be negatively impacted by alcohol consumption," News-Medical.Netreports.

The researchers recommend appropriate policies or educational interventions to lower repercussions of these exposures.

The finding will be published in the June 2014 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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