Nav: Home

What influences 11-year-olds to drink?

March 03, 2016

Around one in seven 11 years olds in the UK have had at least one drink of alcohol, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, which analyzed data from 10,498 children aged 11.

The study, by researchers from University College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science, is the first to examine drinking behaviors in very early adolescence in relation to a wide range of factors that are associated with alcohol consumption in children, such as family, friends and the young person's views about alcohol.

The researchers found that nearly 14% of 11 year olds had drunk more than a few sips of alcohol at least once. It is not possible to make statements regarding cause and effect with this sort of study, but the numbers do show a strong association between 11 year olds drinking and their friends' and mothers' behavior. Children whose mothers drank heavily were 80% more likely to drink than children whose mothers did not drink and boys were more likely to report drinking than girls. Children whose friends drank were five times more likely to drink than those whose friends did not drink. It was also found that friends' drinking had a stronger association with children's alcohol consumption than parents' drinking. Other factors associated with drinking were having started puberty, being a second or later born child, having socioemotional difficulties (e.g. sustaining positive relationships, experiencing, managing or expressing emotions) and antisocial behaviors.

Positive perceptions of alcohol were associated with increased odds of a child drinking. These include perceptions that alcohol makes people feel better about themselves or that it makes it easier to make friends. Other factors associated with increased odds of a child drinking were a lack of parental supervision on weekends and weekdays, and not being happy with family relationships.

Children were less likely to drink if they had heightened perceptions of the harms of drinking and negative expectations towards alcohol, such as that it makes it hard to get along with friends or that it impacts school work.

Lead author Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, said: "Drinking in adolescence is considered a 'risky' behavior, it often co-occurs with other 'risky' behaviors and it is linked to educational failure and to premature mortality, for example via accidental deaths. Improving our understanding of the factors that influence drinking is important as it has implications for the development of policies and interventions aimed at reducing 'risky' behaviors."

To assess factors that may influence drinking in this age group the researchers analyzed data from 10,498 11 year olds collected as part of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). The MCS is a UK-wide study of children born between September 2000 and January 2002. Data was collected from cohort members at five time points between nine months and 11 years of age. Interview data, collected during home visits, was available for 69% of families when cohort members were aged 11.

Questions 11 year olds were asked included "Have you ever had an alcoholic drink? That is more than a few sips?" Parents were asked how often and how much they drank. Friends' drinking was assessed by asking cohort members whether their friends drank alcohol. Further questions evaluated perceptions of risk due to alcohol, positive or negative expectations of alcohol and parental supervision and family relationships.

Data on the drinking behaviors of cohort members and their friends were self-reported and may therefore be prone to over- or under-estimation. Due to the phrasing of questions, it was impossible to distinguish children who only ever had one alcoholic drink from those who drink more regularly. Because this was an observational study, no causal relationship between children's drinking and friends' or parents' drinking, perceptions of harm or expectations towards drinking could be inferred.

The researchers suggest that while the vast majority of children at the age of eleven are yet to explore alcohol, investigating in more detail the context in which children drink - who they drink with, where, when, what they drink and how they acquire alcohol - could help inform effective policy and alcohol harm prevention strategies to mitigate the risk associated with drinking in youth.

Yvonne Kelly said: "Our findings support the need for interventions working at multiple levels, including family and school, to help shape choices around risky behaviors including drinking."
-end-
Media Contact

Anne Korn
Press Officer
BioMed Central
T: +44 (0)20 3192 2744
E: anne.korn@biomedcentral.com

Author Contact

Professor Yvonne Kelly
ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies
University College London
http://childofourtimeblog.org.uk/
@childofourtime

Notes to editor:

1. What influences 11-year-olds to drink? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study Yvonne Kelly, Alice Goisis, Amanda Sacker, Noriko Cable, Richard G Watt, Annie Britton

BMC Public Health 2016

DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-2847-x

For an embargoed copy of the research article please contact Anne Korn at BioMed Central.

After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-2847-x

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

2. BMC Public Health is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health. The journal has a special focus on the social determinants of health, the environmental, behavioral, and occupational correlates of health and disease, and the impact of health policies, practices and interventions on the community.

3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www.biomedcentral.com

BioMed Central

Related Alcohol Consumption Articles:

Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.
Moderate alcohol consumption linked with high blood pressure
A study of more than 17,000 US adults shows that moderate alcohol consumption -- seven to 13 drinks per week -- substantially raises one's risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session.
Is alcohol consumption more helpful than harmful? It depends on your age
Studies of health effects of alcohol consumption may underestimate the risks of imbibing, particularly for younger people, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer ignored by women most at risk
Middle aged women in Australia aren't getting the message about the proven link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, at a time when more are drinking while cancer rates in their age bracket are increasing, according to a new study.
How much is too much? Even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation
Excessive alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF), but what are the effects of moderate and mild consumption on AF?
Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with fewer hospitalizations
A study of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S.
Moderate alcohol consumption may boost male fertility
The question of whether alcohol intake affects male reproductive function is controversial.
Alcohol consumption is associated with nocturnal leg cramps
New research finds that, among patients over 60 years old, there is a strong association between consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps.
Substance in hair may be a marker for alcohol consumption
A new Drug Testing & Analysis study reveals that measuring levels of ethyl sulfate (EtS), a metabolite of ethanol, in the hair can be used to assess alcohol consumption.
Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the UK's alcohol consumption
New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.
More Alcohol Consumption News and Alcohol Consumption Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.