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Sipping, drinking, and early adolescent alcohol consumption: a cautionary note

journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2015, 00:00 authored by M Wadolowski, R Bruno, A Aiken, C Stone, J Najman, K Kypri, T Slade, Delyse HutchinsonDelyse Hutchinson, N McBride, R P Mattick
Background: Epidemiological studies report markedly varying rates of adolescent alcohol
involvement. Despite being a common adolescent behavior, a potential cause of this variation is that
consumption of sips is either not measured or not distinguished from consumption of whole beverages.
Methods: Participants were 1,843 grade 7 adolescents recruited across 49 Australian secondary
schools (M age = 12.4, SD = 0.5). Quantity and frequency of lifetime and past 6-month consumption
were assessed, distinguishing between sipping and drinking. For comparison with international population
surveys, quantity was reported as any consumption, sipping only, and drinking only.
Results: Combining sipping and drinking into a single category, lifetime consumption was reported
by 67.3% of the present sample. Distinguishing lifetime consumption by sipping and drinking: only
7.8%of adolescents had consumed a whole beverage; the remaining 59.6%had only sipped. Consumption
of whole beverages was mostly limited to 1 to 2 drinks (84.2% of drinkers). Sipping and drinking
were also infrequent: 78.2% of sipping and 60.4% of drinking, occurred less than monthly. Heavy episodic
consumption was uncommon (1.2% of the sample). When other population studies were
inspected, a clear trend for higher drinking rates were found in those studies where sipping was counted
as drinking and vice versa.
Conclusions: Consumption of whole beverages appears infrequent in early adolescence, as sipping,
but not drinking, was common in our sample. Comparing the present data with international population
consumption measures highlights the need to more precisely measure and report adolescent consumption,
particularly in relation to sipping.



Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research






350 - 354




Chichester, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Wiley-Blackwell