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Bud Light is the alcohol of choice for the underage; Smirnoff takes second place

A game of beer pong, a drinking game. Bud Light was shown to be the alcohol of choice among underage drinkers in a recent survey.
A game of beer pong, a drinking game. Bud Light was shown to be the alcohol of choice among underage drinkers in a recent survey.
SVTHERLAND/Flickr Creative Commons

As many as one in five L.A. County high school students reported an episode of binge drinking over the previous month, said the county's public health department in late 2011, underscoring that underage drinking is a "particular cause for concern" for local health officials.

"Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among persons under the age of 21," they wrote in a report on alcohol-related harms in the county, "and the early onset of drinking increases the risk of alcohol-related problems later in life."

While the county doesn't have specifics on the prevalence of underage drinking in South Los Angeles, that same report showed that the alcohol-related death rate in the area is among the county's highest: nearly 13 such deaths for every 100,000 people in L.A. City Council District 9.

The taste of underage drinkers

A new report appearing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research didn't focus on the prevalence of underage drinking – instead, it looked at what alcohol brands imbibers under the age of 21 prefer.

After surveying more than 1,000 young people between 13 and 20 years old, Bud Light came out on top: About 28 percent of those surveyed said they'd drank the beer at least once in the past month.

Here are the top 10 beverages among underage drinkers:

  1. Bud Light: 27.9 percent said they'd drank it over the past month.
  2. Smirnoff Malt Beverages: 17 percent
  3. Budweiser: 14.6 percent
  4. Smirnoff Vodkas: 12.7 percent
  5. Coors Light: 12.7 percent
  6. Jack Daniel's Bourbons: 11.4 percent
  7. Corona Extra: 11.3 percent
  8. Mike's: 10.8 percent
  9. Captain Morgan Rums: 10.4 percent
  10. Absolut Vodkas: 10.1 percent

Also among the top 25: Heineken (9.7 percent), Grey Goose Vodkas (6.7 percent), Four Loko (6.1 percent) and Hennessy Cognac (5.6 percent).

"Our major finding," wrote researchers, "is that although alcohol consumption is spread out over a considerable number of alcoholic beverage types, it is concentrated among a relatively small number of brands."

The 25 most popular brands among underage drinkers, the study's authors added, account for half of their alcohol consumption.

Now that the preferences and taste of underage drinkers have been identified, they concluded, the "next logical step" is to look at the relationship between what brands people younger than 21 are exposed to through advertising and what brands they choose to drink.

Photo by SVTHERLAND via Flickr Creative Commons.