Alcohol Consumption Among Teenagers in Trujillo, Peru

Bradley Weaver, Jane H. Ricks M.D., Daniel J. Ricks M.D. MSc., Rachel Sippy B.S., Scott Benson M.D. Ph.D. MPH

University of Utah

Background:  The harmful consumption of alcoholic beverages is a major cause of death and disease worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), harmful alcohol use is a causal factor in more than 60 major types of disease and injury and results in more than 2.5 million deaths each year. An estimated 4.5% of the global burden of disease can be attributed to alcohol. Globally it is the third largest risk factor for disability and death. Alcohol use is a problem in Peru, and is increasing. Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD) refers to disorders due to the consumption and withdrawal effects of alcohol. In Peru, WHO estimated a 7.65% prevalence of AUD among males aged 15+. This is among the highest in South America. This study assesses teenage drinking in Trujillo, Peru.

Methods:  Working with Universidad de Cesar Vallejo (UCV), an adapted form of the Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS) was administered to students at schools throughout Trujillo, Peru. The six questions on alcohol use were examined, calculating percent answering according to established guidelines with confidence intervals.  These results were then compared to those obtained from 2,882 students in Lima in 2010.

Results: 2,529 students from five schools and eleven regions of Trujillo responded. 35.2% (CI=33.3-37.1) drank in the last 30 days (Lima 29.4%*). Of those who drink, 64.1% (CI=61.5-66.7) started before age 14 (Lima 59.6%) and 48.1% (CI=44.9-51.3) drink two or more drinks when they drink (Lima 33.1%*). Overall 21.3% (CI=19.7-22.9) have been drunk (Lima 15.8*) and 16.6% (CI=15.1-18.1) report problems from drinking (Lima 14.0). 25.8% (CI=22.9-28.7) of Trujillo students obtain alcohol from friends (Lima 34.2%*). *Statistically significant difference.

Conclusion:  Our study confirms that teenagers in Peru have a high prevalence of alcohol use, and shows that Trujillo teens drink more than their counterparts in Lima, start at an earlier age, and are more likely to get drunk. Curbing AUD in Peru requires addressing the problem of teenage drinking. Faculty and students at UCV can take this information back to these schools to implement educational and preventive programs to combat this problem within their community.

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