About one in five underage young people reported drinking alcohol via jello shots in the past 30 days, new research shows.
Made at home or sold in bars, jello shots are the familiar dessert infused with alcohol.
For the study, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues used a national sample of 1,031 youths, ages 13 to 20.
The study found the prevalence of past-month jello shot consumption among the underage drinkers sampled was 20.4 percent—slightly higher for women than men. There were no significant differences by age, race, or region—but there was a trend of increasing jello shot use with lower levels of household income, as well as a higher prevalence among those without internet access, according to the findings.
Jello shot users were “significantly more likely to drink heavily” than those who did not consume the shots, consuming alcohol 2.2 days more per week, on average, than non-users, the study found. The average number of alcoholic beverages consumed per month for jello shot users was also significantly higher, at 30.9 drinks per month, compared to an average of 18.8 drinks per month for non-users.
The study found that jello shot consumption was also associated with an increase in engaging in physical fighting when drinking. A total of 18.7 percent of jello shot users reported getting into a physical fight after consuming alcohol, compared to 9.5 percent of non-users.
The most common types of alcohol reported as being used in jello shots were bourbon and vodka. Although the survey did not specifically ask what brand of alcohol was used in the shots, the most common bourbon brand consumed among youths who reported using bourbon in their shots was Jack Daniels, and the most common vodka brands reported were Smirnoff and Absolut.
The authors say their findings have several important public health implications—namely, that national agencies and organizations should consider adding jello shot consumption to their youth alcohol use surveillance systems.
Siegel says that while the researchers could not conclude that jello shot consumption was the cause of heavier drinking among youths, such consumption “appears to be associated with riskier patterns of alcohol use and increased risk of adverse consequences, suggesting that specific interventions to address this consumption may be warranted as part of the effort to reduce risky alcohol use among youths.”
He and his coauthors recommend further research to clarify the causal relationship between jello shot consumption and risky patterns of drinking, and to explore which popular brands are used most in preparing the shots.
Funding for the study came from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additional coauthors are from Fiorente Media Inc. and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Source: Boston University