About 20 percent of underage drinkers in the United States consume alcoholic Jell-O shots, and these youth are also more likely to engage in binge drinking and other risky behaviors, a new study finds.
The results are based on a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. youth ages 13 to 20 who said that they had consumed alcohol in the past month. Of these, 20.4 percent said they had consumed Jell-O shots in the past month, and on average, the number of Jell-O shots the young people in this group consumed was 16, the study found. (That's equivalent to eight standard-size, 1.5-ounce shots of liquor.)
People who had Jell-O shots consumed more alcohol overall per month, and were also more likely to binge drink, than those who didn't consume Jell-O shots. On average, Jell-O shot users consumed 31 alcoholic drinks per month, compared with 19 alcoholic drinks among nonusers. About 73 percent of Jell-O shot users were binge drinkers, meaning they consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a row, compared with 48 percent of nonusers.
In addition, Jell-O shot users were more likely to report getting into a physical fight after drinking, compared with those who didn't consume Jell-O shots. [7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health]
"This research has identified Jell-O shots as a common source of alcohol intake among underage youths that is associated with riskier drinking patterns and adverse consequences," the researchers, from the Boston University School of Public Health, wrote in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.
There is concern that Jell-O shots may mask the bitter taste of alcohol, so that drinkers may be less aware of how much alcohol they have consumed, the researchers said.
Questions about Jell-O shot consumption should become a standard part of surveys that monitor alcohol consumption among U.S. youth, the researchers said.
It's important to note that the study cannot prove that consuming Jell-O shots is the cause of heavier drinking among young people in the U.S. It could be that youths who are heavier drinkers are simply more likely to consume Jell-O shots. Future studies are needed to determine whether Jell-O shots have a direct effect on risky drinking behaviors, the researchers said.