A new study from researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that the more movies teenagers watch with images of alcohol, the more likely teens will start drinking. The study also found that an increase in movie watching was a major risk factor for teens who already drink to start binge drinking.
Researchers surveyed 6,500 randomly selected American teenagers ages 10-14 over a period of two years. The teens were asked which blockbusters films they had seen and how many of these films they had watched over that period.
Researchers measured how many times each film had a scene with alcohol or an alcohol product placement. The study found that on average teens were exposed to alcohol in movies for a total of 4.5 hours. Some teens were exposed to a total of 8 hours of alcohol saturated images in films.
Teens who watched the most films were twice as likely to start drinking as compared to those teens who watched fewer films.
The study found that 80 percent of the blockbuster films watched by teenagers have drinking scenes and 65 percent of the films have product placement of alcoholic beverages.
The researchers looked at many risk factors including whether the teens parents or friends drank.
Exposure to alcohol in films, the study concludes, is a major risk factor for teens to start drinking or to binge drink.
Dr. James Sargent, a professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and a lead author of the study, says the film industry needs to be more aware of how alcohol in films can negatively impact the teens who watch these movies.
"This study shows that exposure to movie depictions of alcohol predicts alcohol onset and progression to binge drinking during adolescence and argues for greater attention to both smoking and drinking in movie ratings," says Sargent.