Alcohol in movies influences young teens' drinking habits

February 20, 2012

Young teens who watch a lot of movies featuring alcohol are twice as likely to start drinking compared to peers who watch relatively few such films, reveals research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

And these are significantly more likely to progress to binge drinking, the study shows.

The findings prompt the researchers to suggest that Hollywood should adopt the same restrictions for alcohol product placement as it does for .

They base their findings on a of more than 6500 US teens between the ages of 10 and 14, who were regularly quizzed about their consumption of alcohol and potentially influential factors over the next two years.

These factors included movie viewing and marketing; the ; peer behaviour; and personal rebelliousness.

The teens were asked which randomly selected 50 movies they had seen from among the top 100 US box office hits in each of the preceding five years, plus 32 films grossing more than US $15 million in the first quarter of 2003—the year of the first survey.

The number of seconds of on-screen alcohol use, including product placement, in each of these 532 films was measured by trained coders. Given the movies they reported seeing, adolescents had typically seen an estimated 4.5 hours of on screen alcohol use and many had seen in excess of eight hours.

Around one in 10 of the teens (11%) said they owned branded merchandise, such as a T shirt or hat with the name of a beer/wine/spirit on it. And nearly one in four (23%) said their parents drank alcohol at least once a week at home; 29% said they were able to get hold of alcohol at home.

Over the course of the two years, the proportion of teens who started drinking alcohol more than doubled from 11% to 25%, while the proportion who began binge drinking—defined as five or more drinks in a row—tripled from 4% to 13%.

Parents who drank at home, and availability of alcohol in the home, were associated with taking up drinking, but not progression to binge drinking.

Exposure to alcohol in movies, owning branded merchandise, having friends who drank, and rebelliousness were associated with both.

After adjusting for factors likely to influence the results, teens who watched the most movies featuring alcohol were twice as likely to start drinking as those who watched the least. And they were 63% more likely to progress to binge drinking.

Alcohol in movies accounted for 28% of the proportion of teens who started drinking between surveys and for 20% of those who moved on to binge drinking.

The association was seen not only with movie characters who drink, but also with alcohol product placement, suggested the authors.

"Product placement in movies is forbidden for cigarettes in the USA, but is legal and commonplace for the alcohol industry, with half of Hollywood containing at least one alcohol brand appearance, regardless of film rating," they write.

They point out that the depiction of smoking in movies has fallen since it became a public health issue and the subject of industry monitoring, and suggest that in movies "may deserve similar emphasis."

Hollywood has responsibilities further afield, given that half its movie revenues come from overseas, they add.

"Like influenza, images in begin in one region of the world then spread globally, where they may affect drinking behaviours of adolescents everywhere they are distributed," they write.

Explore further: Adult-supervised drinking in young teens may lead to more alcohol use, consequences

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not rated yet Feb 20, 2012
So.... can't you make the same argument for most any negative behavior ? (loose morals, homosexuality....)

Maybe old '50 shows like "Father Knows Best" etc. are better for society, than sitcoms of today.
not rated yet Feb 20, 2012
Wow. They did a study to confirm the obvious.

"Evil communications corrupt good manners."

That was the whole goal of the entertainment industry, to begin with, to erode the moral fiber of the civilization.

Everyone knows propaganda influences the masses, even when it's veiled in the form of books or movies.

If you want to sale alcohol make it look "cool" by associating it with parties and hot girls, and all the "in" crowd just loves to go out and get wasted because they think it's normal, since they've been brainwashed by the media and their own idiot peers to do so.

Peer pressure plus media pressure equals another generation hooked on alcohol.

Beer companies love these "reality" shows and movies like that, because it promotes their product and it's addiction to everyone for free...
not rated yet Feb 20, 2012
I agree alcohol in movies may have some influence on teens. I'm sure it didn't help that the parents drank around them also. The problem here is, movies and TV shows still show smoking, even though cigarette companies were no longer allowed to pay to have their brands featured in movies and TV shows years ago. Add the same regulations with alcohol if you want, but it will not stop alcohol from being used in movies or TV shows, because drinking is something people do. It will only stop specific brands from paying for their product to be there. Even if you put alcohol in only films for "adults", an 17 year old can see the "R" rated film but still is not legal to drink until he is 21. So alcohol in any film or TV show will be an influence over teens who are not yet legal drinking age. Movies and TV shows in many cases also depict murder, rape, drunk driving, drug use, sexual acts, bank robbery, and other things we would not want our teens doing. Free speech. We can't sensor everything.

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