A new study in the Journal of Public Health has found that advertising for alcohol is common in British television, and may be a potential driver of alcohol use in young people.
A total of 611 programmes and 1140 commercials were recorded during the peak viewing hours of 6-10 pm in 3 separate weeks. The study found that alcohol imagery is extremely common on UK television, occurring in over 50% of all programmes and almost 50% of all advertising periods between programmes. The majority of alcohol content occurred before 9 pm. Alcohol imagery occurred most frequently in the news, current affairs programmes and soap operas.
Branding occurred in 18% of programmes and 11% of advertisement periods and involved 122 brands, with Heineken, Corona and Fosters accounted for almost half of all brand appearances.
It is estimated that the rate of alcohol consumption in those over 15 in the United Kingdom is the eighth highest in Europe. Alcohol use was responsible for at least 6813 deaths in the country in 2015 and cost the NHS £3.5 billion in 2013-2014.
There is strong evidence that exposure to advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases subsequent use in adolescents. The study authors say the current findings show that television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the United Kingdom and is likely to be a continued contributor to alcohol uptake by young people.