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Keywords:

  • Adolescent;
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • ethnic groups;
  • marketing;
  • mass media;
  • motion pictures

ABSTRACT

Aims  To describe alcohol use and alcohol brand appearances in popular movies and estimate adolescents' exposure to this alcohol-related content.

Design and setting  Nationally representative, random-digit dialed survey in the United States and content analysis of alcohol depictions in the top 100 US box office hits each year from 1998 to 2002 and 34 top movies from early 2003.

Participants  A total of 6522 US adolescents aged 10–14 years.

Measurements  Frequency of alcohol use and brand appearances in movies by Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating. Estimated exposure to minutes of movie alcohol use and brand appearances among US adolescents in this age group.

Findings  Most movies (83%, including 56.6% of G/PG-rated movies) depicted alcohol use and 52% (including 19.2% of G/PG movies) contained at least one alcohol brand appearance, which consisted of branded use by an actor 30.3% of the time. These movies exposed the average US adolescent 10–14 years of age to 5.6 [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.4, 5.7] hours of movie alcohol use and 243.8 (95% CI 238, 250) alcohol brand appearances (5 billion in total), mainly from youth-rated movies. Exposure to movie alcohol content was significantly higher among African American youth than youth of other races.

Conclusions  Alcohol use and brand appearances are portrayed frequently in popular US movies (which are distributed world-wide). Children and adolescents in the United States are exposed to hours of alcohol use depictions and numerous brand appearances in movies and most of this exposure is from movies rated for this segment of the population.