Boozy films can turn children into drinkers

Aftereffect

Parents, please note — watching actors guzzle alcohol in films can raise a child’s risk of becoming an underage drinker, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from a number of US universities found that young teenagers who take alcohol have typically been exposed to drinking on-screen — in fact, they are twice as likely to start guzzling alcohol as those who watched the least.

Parents should closely monitor the films their children watch, while Hollywood should look at phasing out “drinking” scenes, just as it has for smoking, suggest the researchers in the ‘British Medical Journal Open’.

For their study, the researchers questioned some 6,500 youngsters, aged
10 to 14, four times, asking in each session whether they had seen any of 50 films selected at random, over two years.

They asked the subjects about the films they watched, whether they consumed alcohol, whether they drank without their parents knowing, and whether they took part in “binge” drinking, the Daily Mail reported.

They found watching lots of films with drinking scenes was one of the most powerful factors, when it came to predicting both whether a child would start drinking, and progress to binge drinking.

In fact, the proportion of teens who started drinking alcohol more than doubled from 11 to 25 per cent, while the proportion who began binge-drinking more than tripled from four to 13 per cent.

Exposure to drinking in films accounted for 28 per cent of the proportion of children who became drinkers and 20 per cent of the progression to binge-drinking, “making it a risk factor with important public health implications”, according to the researchers.

They said: “Like influenza, images in Hollywood movies begin in one region of the world then spread globally, where they may affect drinking behaviours of adolescents everywhere they are distributed.”

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