To examine (a) whether consumers of alcopops compared to consumers of other alcoholic beverages but not alcopops have riskier drinking patterns and more alcohol-related consequences (e.g. truancy, scuffles, problems with parents) and (b) whether the amount of alcopops consumed is associated independently with risky drinking patterns and alcohol-related consequences over and above those associated with the amount of other alcoholic beverages consumed.
As part of the ESPAD international study, a cross-sectional national representative sample of 5,444 drinkers aged 13-16 years was interviewed by means of an anonymous, self-report questionnaire administered in a classroom setting.
Earlier initiation of consumption, more frequent risky single occasion drinking (RSOD), and a higher likelihood of negative consequences for consumers than for non-consumers of alcopops were due mainly to higher overall consumption. Other alcoholic beverages had similar effects, and whether the same amount of alcohol was consumed as alcopops or as any conventional alcoholic beverage made no difference.
Alcopops in Switzerland do not seem to be linked to specific riskier drinking patterns or consequences per se. Like all alcoholic beverages, they add to the problems caused by drinking and seem to be consumed in addition to conventional alcoholic beverages without replacing them. As the alcohol industry will continue to launch new beverages, prevention targeting alcohol consumption in general might be more effective than focusing on new beverages only.