Differences in teen drunkenness declining across cultures, genders

Washington, Oct 5 (ANI): In the last 10 years, cultural and gender-based differences in the frequency of drunkenness among adolescents have declined, reports a new study.

Drunkenness has become more common in Eastern Europe and among girls and less common in Western countries and among boys.

"A responsive public health policy with respect to adolescent drunkenness requires evidence-based information about the change of this behaviour over time," the report said.

Emmanuel Kuntsche of Addiction Info Switzerland, Research Institute, Lausanne, and colleagues found that overall, 15-year-olds had been drunk an average of two to three times.

Across all seven Eastern European countries, the average frequency of drunkenness increased about 40 percent over the 10-year study period - with the increase more consistent among girls.

However, frequency declined in 13 of the 16 Western countries, with an average decrease of 25 percent. These declines were particularly notable among boys and in North America, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"With the opening of borders and markets of the formerly planned-economy societies, Eastern European countries increasingly became confronted with contemporary global alcohol marketing strategies that target particularly young people," researchers wrote.

"During the same period alcohol consumption and drunkenness may have lost some of their appeal to a formerly high-consuming group, i.e., mostly boys in Western Europe and North America. In these areas, the omnipresence of alcohol marketing may have saturated the market, making adolescents more likely to consider the prevailing ways of alcohol consumption as conformist and traditional rather than innovative."

The result suggest policy and preventive measures such as tax increases, restricting alcohol advertising and promotion of alcohol-free leisure activities might work in Eastern as well as Western countries, and that prevention policies should target girls as well as boys, they conclude.

The study will appear in the February 2011 print issue of Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. (ANI)

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