TV Influences Higher Alcohol Consumption

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Alcohol and TV

TV commercials and other media that feature alcohol have a direct impact on higher consumption of alcohol. In a new study, researchers discovered that when TV ads or films involve drinking alcohol, viewers tend to drink more.

The scientists found that alcohol intake increased 1.5 times in college student exposed to TV films and ads prominently featuring drinking, showing that TV may influence higher alcohol consumption, especially in the comfort of one’s own home.

"This is the first experimental study to show a direct effect of exposure to alcohol portrayals on TV on viewers' immediate drinking behaviour. The results were straightforward and substantial: those who watched both the alcoholic film and commercials drank, on average, 1.5 bottles more than those who watched the non-alcoholic film and commercials”, according to Rutger Engels, professor at the Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands.


Engels says the study has implications for sorting out drinking behaviors among consumers. TV and films that focus on drinking alcohol may promote alcohol consumption that can leads to problems.

Bans on commercials featuring alcohol might cut down on unhealthy drinking behaviors. Parents might be forewarned about TV shows and ads that prominently feature drinking alcohol that might influence teenagers.

The researchers also plan to investigate how TV and films may influence alcohol and smoking. "We primarily want to test whether the effects we found are specific to some genres, and whether identification with actors and characters might also play a role.” Engel says some people may just be more susceptible to what they see on TV.

Alcohol and Alcoholism: doi:10.1093/alcalc/agp003