Prevalence, perceptions and predictors of alcohol consumption and abstinence among South Australian school students: a cross-sectional analysis
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Background Alcohol consumption by young people (particularly early initiation) is a predictor for poorer health in later life. In addition, evidence now clearly shows a causal link between alcohol and cancer. This study investigated prevalence, predictors of alcohol consumption among adolescents including perceptions of the link between alcohol and cancer, and the role of parents and peers. Methods A sample of Australian school students aged 12–17 years participated in a survey (n = 2885). Logistic regression analysis was undertaken to determine predictors. Results Alcohol use increased with age and by 16, most had tried alcohol with 33.1% of students aged 12–17 reporting that they drank at least occasionally (95% CI = 31.0–35.2). Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer was low (28.5%). Smoking status and friends’ approval were predictive of drinking, whereas parental disapproval was protective. Those aged 14–17 who did not think the link between alcohol and cancer was important were more likely to drink, as were those living in areas of least disadvantage. The only factors that predicted recent drinking were smoking and the perception that alcohol was easy to purchase. Conclusions An education campaign highlighting the link between alcohol and cancer may have positive flow-on effects for young people, and schools should incorporate this messaging into any alcohol education programs. Consideration should be given to factors that serve to regulate under-aged accessibility of alcohol.
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