Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews TV

In a lather: do soap operas promote teen drinking?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 05 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:759
  1. Tony Sheldon, freelance journalist Utrecht (
  1. Netherlands

    With the help of two experts, Vivian, 11 and Christine, 9, I take to the sofa and The Road to Tomorrow, the Netherlands' popular television soap. Researchers claim that watching the show is “significantly associated with juvenile alcohol use.”

    Two of the show's characters, Sherina and Daan, are uncorking wine for a romantic candlelit dinner—cut to celebratory opening of champagne with Ilyas, Elif, Iris, and Niels, back to more wine with Sherina and Dan, before Joost and Embedded Image arrive and raid the fridge, for more wine.

    Is this just a realistic portrayal of modern society, as the programme makers claim, or does it lead to a promotion of unhealthy levels of drinking as normal?

    Certainly Dutch youth drink. They topped the 2003 European School Survey on Alcohol, ESPAD. Hospitals report up to 1000 youngsters are admitted annually due to alcohol poisoning. The proportion of 12 year old Dutch girls who had drunk alcohol increased from 38% to 68% between 1999 and 2003, and one in …

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