Study: Alcohol in Movies May Lead to Underage Drinking

Watching movies with scenes that feature alcohol consumption doubles the likelihood that teens will start drinking alcohol, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open. The two-year study of more than 6,500 American kids, ages 10 to 14, also found that teens who are exposed to alcohol-fueled movies are more likely to progress to binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) HealthDay reports.

Study findings show that the proportion of kids who started drinking alcohol more than doubled from 11 percent to 25 percent, and the proportion of those who started binge drinking tripled from 4 percent to 13 percent.

Teens being exposed to movies that feature alcohol use led to 28 percent of kids drinking alcohol and of those teens, 20 percent moved on to binge drinking, noted the survey. Researchers also underscored that the association was not only seen with movie characters who drank on-screen, but also with alcohol product placement throughout the movies.

Other factors that were associated with underage drinking were, coming from a family where parents drink and where alcohol was available in the home, but this finding was not linked to progression to binge drinking.

“Product placement in movies is forbidden for cigarettes in the U.S.A., but is legal and commonplace for the alcohol industry, with half of Hollywood films containing at least one alcohol-brand appearance, regardless of film rating,” James Sargent, of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth Medical School and colleagues wrote in the report.

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    February 21, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    Note that drinking, in movies, is often an expressive gesture connoting pathos, or passion, of some character in a dramatic situation, thus it serves the director’s end of keeping the audiences enthralled by the drama so they stay hooked on the “entertainment” and return to see more movies. For anyone concerned about the recruitment of youth into nicotine addiction, the “emotion” expressed by reckless drinking can also be expressed by the way you take a “drag” off a $igarette; drinking scenes all too often lead “back to tobacco”.

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