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Teenagers are more likely to start drinking alcohol when they have large networks of friends, a new study suggests. The researchers found that in comparison with teens who didn’t drink, those who did drink also had more popular friends, and more friends who drank.

Science Daily reports the study evaluated data from a national survey of teenagers. Students were asked to name up to five male and five female friends from their school. The researchers calculated the number of friendship nominations each student received, the number of connections that a teen’s friends had, and several other measures of friendship connections.

The researchers say their findings suggest that smaller schools may be beneficial, because they provide a smaller number of peers a teenager can reach on their own or through friends.

The results are published in Academic Pediatrics.

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