Teen Girls Drink More Than Boys
"Sugar and spice, and everything nice; that's what little girls are made of." Maybe. But as they grow up, those little girls are drinking more than boys in all categories-beer, wine, alcopops, and hard-liquor drinks.1 With their sweet, sugary taste, alcopops have become girls' drink of choice. About one-third of teen girls say they have tried alcopops. Teen girls also report drinking alcopops more than other alcoholic drinks.2
Alcopops combine a sweet flavor with the kick of malt liquor to create a taste that often appeals to teens. The alcohol industry calls them "flavored malt beverages" or "low-alcohol refreshers." These drinks often contain more alcohol than most beers3 -an unknown fact to 34 percent of teens who wrongly believe that alcopops contain less alcohol than beer or similar drinks.4
Alcopops also are called:
Alcohol drinks present health risks (See Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol) for everyone, but girls may be at greater risk than boys, according to J. Edward Hill, president-elect of the American Medical Association. He said, "The difference in female physiology means that teen girls feel greater impairment from alcohol and encounter alcohol-related problems faster, including brain damage, cancer, cardiac complications, and other medical disorders."5
Drinking alcohol puts girls' health at risk in other ways, too- one in six girls who report trying alcopops was sexually active after drinking. One in four drove a car after drinking or rode with a driver who had been drinking. 6
The news on girls' drinking is cause for concern, especially as the summer months approach because many youth-both girls and boys-try alcohol for the first time in June and July.7 In addition to the health risks, underage alcohol use can be a sign of other serious problems. "Heavy alcohol use among young people is not only illegal, it is linked to fighting, stealing, selling drugs, and carrying a handgun," said Charles Curie, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Parents must talk with their children about the dangers of underage alcohol use and be aware of the behaviors that often go hand in hand with abuse."8
Alcohol is commonly used among children and adolescents, so talk with your child about the dangers of underage drinking. Your teen may be long past the days of nursery rhymes. Still, whether you have a daughter made of "sugar and spice" or a son made of "frogs and snails and puppy dog tails," your child needs your help to make healthy decisions. Talk with your child today.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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