A recently concluded global meet of cardiologists — the World Congress of Cardiology — in Dubai (April 18-21, 2012) discussed some interesting research stories from India. One among them was how Bollywood is impacting alcohol use among Indian adolescents.
Though the study is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal (it was peer-reviewed to be presented at the congress, the organisers said), it has found that overall 10% of students ( between 12–16 years age) surveyed had already tried alcohol. However, students who had seen their stars drink on screen were about three times more likely to have tried alcohol as compared with those who were not exposed to these films.
G. P. Nazar from Health Related Information Dissemination Against Youth (HIRDAY) — a voluntary organisation of health professionals and social scientists — who presented the study said while alcohol advertising is banned in Indian media and scenes glorifying or justifying drinking are censored out from Hindi films, there is no dedicated health legislation that prohibits the depiction of alcohol in these films.
This is ground enough for an immediate alcohol control policy, he said.
The study used 59 Bollywood movies to record the number of alcohol use occurrences and interviewed 3,956 adolescents on whether they had seen these movies. They were grouped according to their exposure level and then asked about their alcohol consumption status to arrive at the results.
In another study presented at the congress, not surprisingly, Indians have been found to be at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) than the CVD hotbeds of USA or Western Europe. Called the Indian Heart Watch (IHW) study, it looked at the prevalence of lifestyle and biological CVD risk factors across the country. The study took place over a five-year period (2006–2010) and involved 6,000 men and women from 11 cities across various regions of India
In this yet unpublished study, 79% men and 83% women were found to be physically inactive. Also, 51% men and 48% women were found to have high fat diets. Nutritional intake, alcohol consumption and smoking were also considered to assess the results. Biological and metabolic parameters such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetic tendencies were also considered. Prakash Deedwania of the University of California, San Francisco, USA said these results must prompt the government to develop public health strategies that will change lifestyles.
The results show that there is low awareness of these risk factors even among literate middle-class urban Indians.