Bollywood has now been blamed for fuelling India's love for alcohol. Alcohol use in Bollywood movies is directly influencing the drinking habits of India's adolescents, according to a new study presented on Friday at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai.
Overall 10% of the students (aged between 12-16 years) surveyed in the study had already tried alcohol. But students that had been most exposed to alcohol use in Bollywood movies were found to be 2.78 times more likely to have tried alcohol as compared with those who were least exposed.
Even when adjustments were made for demographic variables, social influences and characteristics of child and parenting, students were found to be 1.49 times more likely to have tried alcohol if they had been highly exposed to alcohol use in Bollywood films as compared to those who were least exposed.
"These results show that exposure to alcohol use depictions in Bollywood films is directly associated with alcohol use among young people in India," said Dr GP Nazar from Health Related Information Dissemination Against Youth (HIRDAY).
"While alcohol advertising is banned in all Indian media and scenes that justify or glorify drinking are not allowed in Bollywood films, there is no dedicated health legislation that prohibits the depiction of alcohol in these films and there is a clear need for an immediate alcohol control policy," he added.
The study set out to determine two things - firstly if India's adolescents were exposed to alcohol use in Bollywood films and secondly if this exposure was associated with their own alcohol use.
Fifty-nine popular Bollywood movies were coded to record the number of alcohol use occurrences and 3,956 adolescents were then asked if they had seen these movies. Students were grouped according to their exposure to alcohol use occurrences in these movies. They were then asked about their alcohol consumption status. Students in the fourth quartile - i.e. the quarter than had seen the greatest number of alcohol use occurrences in these movies - were found to be 2.78 times more likely to have tried alcohol compared with those students in the first quartile of exposure.
Doctors say drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
It can raise blood pressure, increase the presence of some fats in the blood stream, and increase calorie intake, which in turn leads to overweight and obesity. One of the key characteristics of the hazardous pattern of drinking is the presence of heavy drinking occasions, defined as consumption of 60 or more grams of pure alcohol per day.
Hazardous and harmful drinking results in 2.5 million deaths, each year, globally, of these 14 per cent are due to CVD and diabetes. High levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking are associated with increased risk of CVD and harmful use of alcohol damages the heart muscle, increases the risk of stroke and promotes cardiac arrhythmia.
A WHO study recently said families with frequent drinking husbands in New Delhi spend 24% of family income on alcohol, compared to 2% in other families.
The WHO's first global report on the burden and impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) said alcohol is often a significant part of family expenditure.
Excessive drinking caused 2.5 million deaths worldwide in 2004 -- 3.8% of all deaths in the world. More than half of these deaths occurred as a result of NCDs, including cancers, cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis.
"National averages conceal the impact on families of drinkers. The harmful use of alcohol is a major risk factor for premature deaths and disabilities in the world," the report said.
India was among the first countries in the world to raise an alarm against alcohol. However, since then, it has not been able to put in place an effective anti-alcohol policy.
In 2007, the ministry had called for strict control over alcohol sale in India, including banning of scenes in movies which show consumption of alcohol. It had also prepared a draft national alcohol policy, but it never saw the light of day.
On being asked what happened to India's much touted policy against alcohol, a health ministry official said, "It's not a priority for us anymore. The ministry of social justice is working on developing a national alcohol policy."
Meanwhile, the average age of alcohol consumption in India has been constantly falling by nearly nine years over the past decade. At present, at an average, Indians take their first sip of alcohol at the age of 19 compared to 28 in the 1990s. Soon, experts say it will reduce to 15 years.
Nearly 62.5 million people in India drink alcohol with the per capita consumption being around four litres per adult per year. For every six men, one woman drinks alcohol in India.
The WHO report says "There is a direct relationship between higher levels of alcohol consumption and rising risk of some cancers, liver diseases and cardiovascular diseases. There is a high level of variation in alcohol consumption around the world. On average, global adult per capita consumption was estimated at six litres of pure alcohol in 2008."
Globally, 6.2% of all male deaths are related to alcohol, compared to 1.1% of female deaths. Globally, 3.2 lakh young people aged 15-29 years die annually from alcohol-related causes, resulting in 9% of all deaths in that age group. Alcohol raises the risk of as many as 60 different diseases, according to a recent study in the Lancet. India has one of the largest alcoholic beverage industries in the world, producing 65% of the alcohol in south-east Asia. It also contributes to about 7% of the total alcohol beverage imports into the region.
The largest-ever study to investigate the link between alcohol consumption and heart disease among Indians has made an interesting revelation-even small amounts of alcohol consumption harms Indians.
The study covering 4,400 drinkers and an almost equal number of non-drinkers in 10 cities by doctors from AIIMS, Centre for Chronic Diseases, Public Health Foundation of India and Madras Diabetes Research Foundation has challenged the much touted cardiac benefits of alcohol and has actually warned of potential harm to Indians due to drinking.
Contradicting suggestions, mostly from western nations, that a peg or two was beneficial, doctors have now reported that those who consumed alcohol were at 40% greater risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) that those who didn't drink at all.
The study categorised drinkers in three brackets-heavy drinkers (who consumed more than 28 grams per day), moderate drinkers (14-28 grams per day) and light drinkers (less than 14 grams a day). While light drinkers had a 40% greater risk of CHD compared to non-drinkers, the chances were as high as 60% among moderate drinkers and nearly 100% in heavy drinkers. One drink was equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol (equivalent to 120 ml of wine, 285 ml of beer and 30 ml of spirits). heavy drinkers. One drink was equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol (equivalent to 120 ml of wine, 285 ml of beer and 30 ml of spirits).