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Young Males Drink More When Alcohol Portrayed in Media

Portrayal of alcohol in movies, commercials linked to increased consumption

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Watching a movie or commercials portraying alcohol use leads to higher total alcohol consumption among young men, according to research published online Mar. 4 in Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Rutger C.M.E. Engels, of the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and colleagues studied if portrayal of images of alcohol and alcohol use in movies and commercials actually promoted drinking behavior. In a natural bar setting, young males were shown a one-hour video clip consisting of a portion of a movie, with two commercial breaks interspersed. While viewing the clip, participants were given access to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Some of them saw many alcohol portrayals; some saw fewer; some saw none.

Alcohol use in either movies or commercials was significantly associated with increased alcohol use while watching the movie, the investigators found. In a one-hour period, viewers watching a movie and commercials portraying alcohol drank an average of 1.5 more glasses of alcohol than those who viewed no alcohol portrayal.

The authors write these findings may imply that "if moderation of alcohol consumption in certain groups is strived for, it may be sensible to cut down on the portrayal of alcohol in programs aimed at these groups and the commercials shown in between."

The study was partially funded by STAP, an organization against alcohol misuse and its consequences.

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