For U.S. teenagers who drink, hard liquor is the beverage of choice, according to a new study.
Almost 44% of 7,723 high-school students in eight states who reported having at least one alcoholic drink in the previous 30 days preferred liquor. Beer was a distant second, with 19.2% of teens citing it as a favorite; another 17.4% listed malt beverages as their favorite. Wine and wine coolers were the preferences of only 3.7% and 3.4%, respectively, of those surveyed.
The study appears online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and is based on data derived from a 2007 survey of ninth- through 12th-graders. Male teenage drinkers were more likely to opt for liquor and beer, while females more frequently preferred malt beverages, wine coolers and wine.
Twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine and one ounce of 80-proof hard liquor have approximately the same alcohol content. But the study notes that teens preferring liquor and beer to other drinks were more likely to drink more frequently, to binge drink and to use cigarettes and marijuana.
And, in general, teens who liked liquor best were also more likely to report having been in a physical fight and to report carrying a weapon, among other risky behaviors.
Older teens were more likely to prefer liquor and beer. That finding has “potential implications for prevention, as it suggests that interventions aimed at young adolescents who drink wine coolers and malt beverages might help avert this transition to more hard-core alcohol and the associated adoption of heavier and riskier drinking patterns,” the study’s authors write.
The authors note it’s possible that respondents under-reported their drinking and that teens who attend private schools-or no school at all-might have different responses.