Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are Low-Risk Adolescents More Likely to Drink After Watching Alcohol Consumption in Movies?

By: Lewis First, MD, MS

We have certainly published manuscripts regarding the influence of risk-taking behaviors like smoking in the cinema on older teens—but what about younger teens who report at baseline they have never had a drink? Will watching movies with alcohol consumption influence them to drink in the year after they
Photo by Sarah Ackerman via Flickr
see these movies?

Hanewinkel et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds. 2013-3880) address these questions in a longitudinal study of over 2,300 teens from state-funded schools in Europe with a mean age of 12.9 years in regard to whether or not they report using alcohol, or worse, attempted binge drinking within 12 months of seeing films where alcohol was consumed. The authors appropriately controlled for age, gender, socioeconomic status, school performance, TV watched, personality and drinking behaviors of family and friends.

There are many remarkable findings in this study, including how many cinematic exposures to alcohol these teens report, as well as how the relative risk increases with every thousand exposures (and teens averaged over 3,600 exposures in the films they watched during the 5 years prior to entering the study) not just for initiating drinking alcohol, but for binge drinking as well.

If you ever had doubts about the influence of the media on the risk-taking behaviors of our teens, this study will remove those quickly. Drink up the information shared in this study and learn more.

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