More Eastern European teens getting drunk: study

Mon Oct 4, 2010 10:04pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Drunkenness has become more common among Eastern European teenagers and particularly girls in the past decade as alcohol marketing reaches new audiences, according to Swiss research.

A study looking at nearly 80,000 15-year-olds in 23 countries found overall teens had been drunk on average two to three times but it was becoming less common in Western countries.

However Dr. Emmanuel Kuntsche of Addiction Info Switzerland, Research Institute, in Lausanne and his colleagues found more girls, particularly in Eastern Europe, are drinking to excess.

"While alcohol consumption might have appeared to be part of a new and attractive lifestyle element to adolescents in Eastern Europe, during the same period alcohol consumption and drunkenness may have lost some of their appeal to a formerly high-consuming group, (primarily) boys in Western Europe and North America," the researchers said in a statement.

The researchers said social control of leisure time and lack of alcohol marketing behind the Iron Curtain had seemed to keep adolescent drunkenness down.

But in the 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, increasingly aggressive marketing of alcohol likely helped contribute to an increase in adolescent alcohol use during that decade.

"Across all seven Eastern European countries, the average frequency of drunkenness increased about 40 percent over the 10-year study period," the researchers said.

The frequency of drunkenness declined in 13 of 16 Western countries by an average of 25 percent. Boys reported getting drunk an average of 2.5 times, down from 3 times, and girls reported a drop to 2 from 2.5 times.

While gender differences narrowed overall, in most countries -- except for Greenland, Norway, and Britain -- boys still reported getting drunk more often than girls.   Continued...