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Drinking Scenes in Movies May Spur Teens to Do the Same
Date:3/5/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- The more adolescents watch movie stars sidle up to the bar on the big screen, the more alcohol they drink themselves, a new study suggests.

A cross-sectional survey of more than 16,000 teens aged 10 to 19 from six European countries -- the largest study of its kind -- indicated that 27 percent had consumed five or more drinks on at least one occasion.

Teens who had seen more alcohol use in movies were significantly more likely to have engaged in binge drinking, a pattern observed across cultures with different norms regarding teen and adult alcohol use.

"The striking thing to me is how consistent the results were across countries and cultures," said study co-author Dr. James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H. "Whatever you want your alcohol to do for you -- make you feel rich, funny, sophisticated -- you can see that in the movies. That shapes how kids see alcohol and their decisions whether to binge drink."

The study was released online March 5 in advance of publication in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Research centers in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland gave students lists containing a random selection of 50 box-office hits based on data on movie revenues in each respective country. Participants were asked to report how often they had seen each movie, all of which were content-coded with regard to alcohol use, and how often they consumed five or more alcoholic drinks at one time.

Fifty-six percent of the movies listed were included in the top 100 box-office hits in the United States, where recent research indicated a similar link between actors' onscreen alcohol use and teen drinking habits, Sargent said. Overall, 86 percent of the total 655 movies included at least one alcohol scene, the
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