Although alcohol consumption among young people in the UK has been declining there remains a concerning level of binge drinking amongst 16–24-year-olds.
One intervention, that is cost-effective and has a wide reach, is the inclusion of health messaging and product-related information on alcohol packaging. It is important therefore to understand how much information is being processed and recalled by young people.
A cross-sectional study, published in the Journal of Public Health, has examined awareness and recall of product information among adolescents and young adults aged 11–19 years old.
Participants were asked:
‘Have you seen any information, health messages or warnings on alcohol packaging over the last month?
‘What messages do you remember seeing?’
‘Have you ever had a whole alcoholic drink? Not just a sip.
‘Do you think you will drink alcohol at any time during the next year?’
Analysis of the questionnaire responses found that just one-third of participants had seen information on alcohol packaging. Awareness of product-related information was greater for current drinkers compared to non-drinker and higher-risk drinkers than lower-risk drinkers. 47% of the young people responded ‘none’ when asked the number of health messages recalled.
The top messages young people remembered were:
- Drink responsibly
- Don’t drink during pregnancy
- Know and stick to your limits
Overall the results show that most young drinkers did not recall seeing any information, health messages or warnings on alcohol packaging in the past month, implying that current labelling is failing to reach this key audience. This suggests the need for alterations to be made to the current intervention to improve the chances of message comprehension and recall.