The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5081.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 1:42 PM

Abstract #62824

Health consequences of underage drinking

Ralph W. Hingson, ScD, MPH, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Talbot 2W, Boston, MA 02118, 617 638-5161,

Purpose: To examine health consequences of underage drinking for a National Academy of Sciences Congressional Report.

Methods: We examined: The U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System, U.S. Centers for Disease Control Mortality Statistics, The 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Results: Despite a legal drinking age of 21, in the U.S. among persons age 12-20 in the past month 28.5% (10.1 million) drank alcohol, 6% (2 million) drank 5 or more drinks at least 5 times. Among high school students in the past month, 47%, (7 million) drank and 34% (5 million) drank 5 or more drinks at one time. Drinkers, especially heavy drinkers, were more likely than non drinkers to: drive after drinking, not wear safety belts, carry guns or other weapons, get into fights that result in injury, attempt suicide, use tobacco products and illicit drugs, engage in risky sexual behaviors and have lower academic performance. During the last 20 years, the average age people began to drink has declined. Those who start at younger ages are more likely as adolescents and adults to experience alcohol dependence, frequent heavy drinking and alcohol-related unintentional injuries, motor vehicle crashes, physical fights and unplanned and unprotected sex. In 2001, 2,208 persons died in traffic crashes involving a drinking driver under 21. Annually there are over 2000 alcohol-related unintentional non traffic deaths among persons under 21. Conclusion: There is a need for education, treatment, legal and community interventions to reduce underage drinking and its harmful health consequences.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Alcohol Use, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Underage Drinking Prevention: The Problem that Never Goes Away

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA