Alcohol marketing generally leads to increased alcohol use, research carried out by the University of Twente following the Nationaal Preventieakkoord (national prevention agreement) has found. Dr Joris van Hoof (UT): “Existing knowledge about alcohol marketing has been systematically organised, and gaps in this knowledge have been identified. Alcohol marketing generally leads to increased alcohol use, including amongst underage drinkers. Whether alcohol marketing also contributes towards increased alcohol use amongst pregnant women, heavy drinkers or addicts is unknown.”
The study also showed that alcohol marketing was very prevalent in the Netherlands, and that this alcohol marketing also reaches minors. It includes television advertisements, advertising posters, event sponsorship, posts and tweets by alcohol brands, and adverts on social media. The growing exposure to alcohol-related content and alcohol marketing in social media is a particularly notable trend. Almost nothing is known of the effects of the marketing of non-alcoholic drinks, and the growing market share of this new segment of drinks needs more research.
The University of Twente carried out this research in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and addiction specialists Tactus Verslavingszorg. A literature study was carried out in order to systematically organise existing knowledge of the scale and consequences of alcohol marketing.
The research was carried out within the framework of the 2018 Dutch Nationaal Preventieakkoord (national prevention agreement), which defines ambitions and measures for making the Netherlands a healthier country. Besides problem drinking, the agreement also focuses on smoking and overweight.
The agreement includes two aims with regard to the marketing of alcoholic drinks:
Alcoholic drinks marketing must be prevented from exacerbating problem drinking.
Alcohol marketing must have little to no effect on young people. This goes further than merely preventing alcohol marketing from being aimed directly at young people.
Every year 35,000 people in the Netherlands die of causes directly related to smoking, overweight, or problem drinking. Taken together these three factors are the principal cause of disease in the Netherlands. The health of many Dutch people could be improved.
Problematic alcohol use has serious consequences. The resulting damage is suffered not just by the drinker but also by their immediate environment and society as a whole. ZonMw is contributing towards innovative and insightful research in order to obtain improved insights into preventive measures and effective treatments.