Children who watch sports on television are exposed to a large number of alcohol ads, a new Australian study finds.
Researchers discovered that 87 percent of alcohol ads on daytime television in Australia aired during sports shows watched by hundreds of thousands of children.
There were more than 6,000 alcohol ads on free-to-air sports shows Australia in 2012, the researchers found. Sports shows had many more alcohol ads per hour than non-sports shows. Most of the alcohol ads aired during televised sports were during children’s and teens’ peak viewing times, the study reported.
“Taking into account the amount of programming time for sport vs. non-sport TV, there’s four alcohol adverts in sport for every one in non-sport TV. Australian children love watching sport but unfortunately they are going to have to watch a lot of alcohol ads as well,” study leader Kerry O’Brien, an associate professor at Monash University, said in a university news release.
The study was published Aug. 11 in the journal PLoS One.
“Watching sport with your kids is great family entertainment, but if culture is what you see around you, then it’s pretty clear from these results that what children see when they watch sport is a drinking culture,” study co-author Sherilene Carr from Monash University said in the news release.
Previous research has suggested that greater exposure to alcohol ads during childhood and the teen years is associated with starting to drink at a younger age and more drinking problems later in life.
The current study also showed that it would be easy to cut out most of children’s exposure to alcohol ads by changing regulations that allow daytime alcohol ads. If regulations were changed so that alcohol advertising wasn’t allowed before 9:30 pm, children’s exposure to alcohol ads could be halved, the researchers concluded.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers advice on how to prevent underage drinking.