A new survey of teenagers in 6 European countries has concluded that the link between alcohol use in movies and binge drinking is “robust” and “significant.” The study, led by Dr Reiner Hanewinkel from Germany’s Institute for Therapy and Health Research, polled more than 16,000 kids at public schools in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland. While the countries have differing alcohol control policies, cultural contexts were found to have little impact on the results, leading researchers to believe that “alcohol use in movies is an independent risk factor for initiation of potentially harmful patterns of drinking in youth.” For the study, exposure to on-screen booze use was calculated by summing up the number of alcohol occurrences in each movie the students had seen on a randomly-generated list of 50 local box office hits. The kids were then asked how often they’d had 5 or more drinks of alcohol on one occasion – which would classify as binge drinking. The study found that 40% of those with the most alcohol exposure had binged compared to 10-20% of those with some of the lowest exposure. The researchers did allow, however, that while some studies have revealed an association between movie alcohol exposure and youth drinking, the evidence is sparse. The results come shortly after a recent US study led by a Dartmouth Medical School professor which found that high movie alcohol exposure was the 3rd biggest risk for the onset of drinking and the 4th factor in the progression to binge drinking.
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