New Journal of Pediatrics study links binge drinking to alcohol in movies

Bryan Alaspa's picture

One of the biggest problems that faces teens and their parents it the epidemic of binge drinking and at least one new study says that part of the blame on the increase in binge drinking is due to Hollywood.

For years there have been attempts to connect what is seen in the movies to what people do in their private lives. However, a study that was released this week in the medical journal Pediatrics, says that the connection between the use and abuse of alcohol by characters in movies and on television may be partially to blame for the epidemic of binge drinking among teens. Of course, the study has already unleashed some controversy.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the study Tuesday. The study looked at students who had watched a large amount of heavy drinking as depicted in movies. The study says there is a direct link between this and those same student’s willingness to excessively drink in their real lives.

What is interesting is that this study shows that the link is not something isolated to the United States. It appears as if it crosses cultural lines and happens in early every country. Most of the binge drinking, however, happens in European countries such as Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Scotland. The connection between the movies and binge drinking was reached after other factors such as age, family history and gender were already taken into account.

The study also drew other conclusions about students who drink. For example, it also drew parallels between students who had spent a large amount of time watching depictions of heavy drinking and having friends who were likely to drink or be classified as “rebellious.”

Scientists were quick to point out that just seeing drinking on the big screen or television screen was not necessarily a cause for students to go out and seek alcohol and become drunk. The correlation is not necessarily a causation. The researchers said that it was entirely possible that the students involved in the study had already begun experimenting with alcohol and other substances before they had seen the movies or on television.

At the same time the researchers suggested that reducing the amount of exposure that teens and young people had to extreme drinking might reduce the amount of binge drinking among teens. Whether or not this encourages Hollywood to reduce the amount of heavy drinking seen on the big screen remains to be seen.

Binge drinking can lead to a host of health problems, particularly for younger people. For example, teens can actually drink so much that they can get alcohol poisoning in their blood. This can become fatal. Binge drinking also potentially leads to driving while intoxicated and increased incidents of rape and unprotected sex.

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