MUMBAI: It’s been a tipsy two decades in Bollywood with a rise in alcohol and fast food product placements in films, according to a study.
People, including children, are exposed to a high and frequent volume of tobacco, alcohol and branded fast-food product placement through Bollywood films, according to a study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, by researchers from Vital Strategies and Imperial College, London.
“Our study suggests that Bollywood films are contributing to promoting unhealthy behaviours in their audience, particularly children,” said Dr. Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Global Policy and Research, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies.
“We hope that this study offers evidence and support to reduce the marketing of these products in films given the known health problems they cause, including obesity, heart disease and cancer,” Murukutla added.
Of the 300 films analysed from the time period 1994-2013, 93 per cent of the films had at least one occurrence of alcohol, 70 per cent had at least one occurrence of tobacco, and 21 per cent films had at least one occurrence of branded fast food.
Tobacco and alcohol occurrences were more common in A rated films whereas fast-food depiction was prominent in movies targeted for all audiences — U and U/A rated films.
It also stated that on average, tobacco products or usage was depicted four times per film, alcohol was shown or used seven times per film, and branded fast food was shown or used 0.4 times per film.
While the depiction of tobacco in some films fell during the 20-year period of analysis, the placement of alcohol and branded fast food products significantly increased.
The researchers believe that the downward trend in tobacco promotion from the year 2004 can be a result of the regulations related to tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships.
“The rise in the number of non-communicable diseases across the globe is linked with consumption of tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed foods. Marketing strategies that promote the consumption of these products should be strictly regulated using the broad public health perspective with an aim to reduce the burden of death and disease,” said, Professor Christopher Millett, Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit, Imperial College, London.
According to the researchers, the analysis presents evidence for the adoption of strong policy measures to protect the health of movie-watching audiences.
They listed some measures, which include: Monitoring product placement of unhealthy commodities and prohibiting funded product placement continuously on all mediums; reviewing certifications of films based on product placement of unhealthy products; removing government subsidies in case of any depiction of unhealthy commodities or violation that promotes unhealthy commodities.
“The association between the frequency and trend of unhealthy products appearing in films becomes all the more important during the current COVID-19 crisis as industry reports have indicated that there is a significant increase in media consumption during this time,” said Murukutla.