(Reuters Health) – In a study of 15-year-olds in the U.K., those who had been most exposed to alcohol use in films were also most likely to have tried alcohol, and about twice as likely as the least exposed to have been binge drinking.

After accounting for factors in early childhood, and even before birth that might explain the link, the associations were still “very robust,” said lead author Andrea Waylen of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences in Bristol, England.

The study only looked at a single point in time, so it cannot prove cause and effect, Waylen noted in an email. But the results are in line with research from the USA, Europe and elsewhere that links youth “viewing of depictions of alcohol use in movies and the onset of drinking, regular drinking, binge-drinking and alcohol-related problems,” she said.

Previous studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have found that exposure to alcohol on screen does predict teen alcohol use, according to Sonya Dal Cin of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who was not part of the new study.

“In the U.S., the MPAA rating system does not specifically mention alcohol use as a ratings criterion,” Dal Cin told Reuters Health by email.

Alcohol use in Hollywood films has been on the rise in recent years, in part because the alcohol industry pays for product placement, according to Dr. Reiner Hanewinkel of the Institute for Therapy and Health Research in Kiel, Germany, who was also not part of the new research.

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