Nearly half of American teen drinkers would rather have a shot of liquor than a bottle of beer, a new study finds. The golden brew and malt beverages only come a distant second and third, and wine barely registers on the radar.
Teens who prefer liquor are much more likely to indulge in high-risk behavior, like binge drinking, drinking and driving, smoking tobacco or marijuana and having multiple sexual partners, researchers also found.
The study, which covered 7,723 teens ages 12 to 18 in eight states, uses data from the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Researchers found that boys were more likely to prefer liquor and beer than girls, and that teens “graduate” to liquor and beer from malt beverages — such as Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Silver or Hard Lemonade — and wine coolers as they get older. African-Americans and Hispanic teens preferred malt beverages to beer, but not to liquor.
The study appears online and in the April 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“The study results suggest that youth might initiate drinking with sweeter, more-flavored alcoholic beverages like malt beverages and wine coolers, and that they progress toward harder alcoholic drinks, like beer and hard liquor — and the high-risk behavior,” said lead study author, Michael Siegel, M.D., of the Boston University School of Public Health.