"A study of this kind hasn't been done in some 20 years, and it shows that the alcohol industry is making billions of dollars from the sale of alcohol to minors," said study author Pamela Trangenstein, an assistant professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
, used national data on self-reported adult and underage drinking from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. Researchers compared those numbers to industry sales in 2016, which they said was the latest data available, and adjusted for underreporting.
"It's really shocking that underage drinkers generated $17 billion in alcohol sales as late as 2016," said nutrition researcher Marion Nestle, a visiting professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University who has authored numerous books on the politics of the food and beverage industry.