Alcohol, unhealthy habits prevalent on children’s screens

“Parents of adolescents understand how accessible media content is to their children, but a new study illustrates how often illicit or unhealthy themes may be appearing on their TV, computer and phone screens.

Research recently published in the Journal of Public Health examined the prevalence of content featuring alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy foods across 15 reality TV series (264 total episodes) broadcast in the United Kingdom from 2019-2020. Viewers under age 18 accounted for 24,000 tobacco impressions, 12.6 million alcohol impressions, and 21.4 million impressions of food high in fat, sugar and salt.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis says this themed content is given a glamorous appearance onscreen and real-life consequences are often lacking from storylines.

“When we see people smoke or we see people eat junk food or we see people drink on TV, we very rarely see people develop lung cancer or alcoholism or have car accidents, or develop unhealthy eating habits [into] obesity,” he said.”

Read further from UW Medicine Newsroom (June 2022)

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