New research from Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) strengthens the case that children’s exposure to smoking in movies influences their decision to start smoking. It further suggests that smoking in movies seen in early childhood has an equally significant impact on that decision as movie smoking exposure closer to adolescence. The study, published in the January issue of Pediatrics, was the first of its kind to focus on elementary school children, and the first to update the children’s exposure to movie smoking over time.
The research team surveyed more than 2,200 children ages 9-12 from 26 schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. Children were asked about movies they had seen and their smoking behavior at an initial baseline survey and at two follow-up surveys. Children who had already tried smoking before the baseline survey were not included in the follow-up surveys.
At the baseline survey, children were given randomly sampled lists containing 50 of the 550 top box office movies over the prior 5.5 years and asked which movies they had seen. Children were interviewed again in two follow-up surveys, one and two years later, about their smoking behavior and the movies they had seen based on updated lists of 50 of the 200 top box office movies and video rentals during the previous year.
By the third survey, 10 percent of the children had initiated smoking. Results from the three surveys showed that each child had seen an average of 37 out of the 150 popular movies they were asked about, exposing them to an average of 150 smoking occurrences. About 80 percent of the children’s exposure was due to smoking images portrayed in youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13).
The take-home message from this study is that exposure to movie smoking occurring during early childhood is as influential as exposure that occurs nearer to the time of smoking initiation. Even young children who see smoking in movies may be at risk for smoking later on. Parents also need to be aware, she adds, that most of children’s exposure to movie smoking comes from youth-rated movies, and that they should try to reduce their children’s viewing of movies that contain smoking.
Dartmouth Medical News
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Merrill Goozner, author of “The $800 Million Dollar Pill", has posted an interesting overview on the high costs and limited benefits of cancer drugs:
A RECENT JOHNS HOPKINS OBESITY REPORT predicts that by 2015, 75 percent of American adults will be overweight; 41 percent will be obese. With this forecast comes a renewed public health effort to figure out why this is so. A new paper published by University of California at San Diego and the Harvard Medical School holds that people with obese friends or siblings are at a greater risk of becoming overweight. The study of more than 12,000 people found that when a person becomes obese, their friends are 57 per cent more likely to also put on weight.
But it doesn’t stop with friends: brothers and sisters with an obese sibling show a 40 per cent increased risk of becoming obese, while a husband or wife runs a 37 per cent greater risk.
The findings, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, may show that environment may have more to do – or equally as much – to do with overweight and obesity as genes.
Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy, said that socialising with obese people affected a person’s perception of what constituted a normal body weight.
“What we see here is that one person’s obesity can influence numerous others to whom he or she is connected both directly and indirectly,” he said. “In other words, it’s not that obese or non-obese people simply find other similar people to hang out with. Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship.”
He added: “The interpersonal, social network effects we observe arise not because friends and siblings adopt each other’s lifestyles. It’s more subtle than that. What appears to be happening is that a person becoming obese most likely causes a change of norms about what counts as an appropriate size.
People come to think that it is ok to be bigger since those around them are bigger, and this sensibility spreads.”
A video link on the study:
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