21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

AIMS: To assess temporal trends of adolescent alcohol use in Finland from 2000 to 2011, according to socio-economic status and depression.

METHODS: Classroom self-administered questionnaires concerning health, health behaviours and school experiences were administered biennially from 2000-2001 to 2010-2011 to nationwide samples of 14- to 16-year-olds (n = 618,084). Alcohol use was measured as the frequencies of drinking and drunkenness. Socioeconomic status was measured using parental education and unemployment. Depression was measured using a Finnish modification of the Beck Depression Inventory. Cross-tabulations and a logistic regression analysis were applied.

RESULTS: Over the study period, rates of frequent drinking and frequent drunkenness decreased among both boys and girls. Low levels of parental education and unemployment as well as adolescent depression increased the likelihoods of frequent drinking and drunkenness. Unlike the general decreasing trend observed for alcohol use, the likelihoods of frequent drinking and drunkenness increased among adolescents who were depressed and had unemployed parents with low levels of education. The prevalence of frequent drunkenness was 75.8% among the boys in this group during 2008-2011, whereas the corresponding prevalence was 2.3% for boys without depression and with highly educated, employed parents. The corresponding figures for girls were 41.7% and 1.4%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The overall decreasing trend in frequent alcohol use was not observed among socioeconomically deprived adolescents with depression. Thus, alcohol prevention programmes should treat these youth as special targets.

21 September 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health, we estimate the effect of peers' alcohol consumption and alcohol prices on the drinking habits of high-school-age youth. We use the two-stage residual inclusion method to account for the endogeneity of peer drinking in nonlinear models. For our sample of high school students, we find that peer effects are statistically and economically significant regarding the choice to participate in drinking but are not significant for the frequency of drinking, including binge drinking. Regarding alcohol prices, even though we have good price variation in our sample, alcohol prices are not found to be significant. The results are important for policymakers who are considering policies to reduce underage drinking, as we conclude that no significant impact on underage drinking will result from low-tax states' increasing excise taxes on alcohol so they are similar to those of high-tax states. Policymakers may choose to focus instead on the influence of peers and changing the social norm behavior.

02 August 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Adolescence is a time that can set the course of alcohol abuse later in life. Sensitivity to reward on multiple levels is a major factor in this development. We examined 736 adolescents from the IMAGEN longitudinal study for alcohol drinking during early (mean age=14.37) and again later (mean age=16.45) adolescence. Conducting structural equation modeling we evaluated the contribution of reward-related personality traits, behavior, brain responses and candidate genes. Personality seems to be most important in explaining alcohol drinking in early adolescence. However, genetic variations in ANKK1 (rs1800497) and HOMER1 (rs7713917) play an equal role in predicting alcohol drinking two years later and are most important in predicting the increase in alcohol consumption. We hypothesize that the initiation of alcohol use may be driven more strongly by personality while the transition to increased alcohol use is more genetically influenced.

02 August 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Pre-drinking has been linked to subsequent heavy drinking and the engagement in multiple risky behaviors.

OBJECTIVES: The present study examined a group of adolescents who recently had a "big night out" to determine whether there were differences in their pre-drinking behavior based on age, gender, geographic location, and social setting.

METHODS: Participants (n = 351, aged 16-19) representing the heaviest 20-25% of drinkers in their age group were recruited using nonrandom sampling from metropolitan (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth) or regional (Bunbury) locations across Australia and administered a survey by a trained interviewer.

RESULTS: Almost half the sample pre-drank (n = 149), most commonly at a friend's house. Those aged 18-19 were more likely to pre-drink, and did so at higher quantities compared to their younger counterparts. Males and females reported similar pre-drinking duration, quantity and amount spent on alcohol. Compared to those in cities, regional participants consumed greater quantities over longer periods of time. Two-thirds of participants consumed alcohol in excess of national guidelines during their pre-drinking session. These participants were more likely to nominate price as a motivation to pre-drink and were less likely to report that someone else provided them alcohol.

CONCLUSIONS: This study sheds light on the pre-drinking habits of a population of young risky drinkers, and highlights the need for policy makers to address this form of drinking to reduce alcohol-related harm among young people.

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