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Substance Abuse

Binge Drinking Among Kids Linked to Exposure to Drinking on TV, Movies

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Exposure to drinking in movies and on television has been linked to binge drinking among kids and teens, based on the results of a new study.

A study from six European countries found a link between exposure to onscreen alcohol use and binge drinking among teens and kids. The study, however, does not definitely prove whether the exposure is what causes them to drink alcohol irresponsibly.

Lesley Smith, who has been involved in studies on teen drinking at Oxford Brookes University in the UK but is not involved in this recent study, shared: “I don’t think on the basis of this study you can say (to parents) that exposure to alcohol will increase the chance of their child drinking… Current evidence suggests that there may be a link, but a lot more research needs to be done to try to tease out what are the components.”

The new study was conducted by Reiner Hanewinkel of the Institute for Therapy and Health Research in Kiel, Germany, and colleagues. It involved surveys given out to more than 16,000 students at public schools in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland. The study participants were 10 to 19 years old, although most of them belonged to the younger end of that range.

The survey questionnaires asked the participants to choose which of 50 box office hits they have seen from lists that included more than 600 films popular between 2004 and 2009 in various countries. The researchers then went through each of these films and counted how many times characters were depicted drinking alcohol; it was found that 86% of the films had at least one scene that involved alcohol.

A comparison of on-screen exposure to drinking and admissions of engaging in binge drinking yielded a consistent link between the two.