A study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, has revealed that alcohol and fast food product placement in Bollywood films rose significantly over two decades.
Even those films rated for children were no exceptions, says the study.
The study was conducted jointly by researchers from health organisation Vital Strategies and Imperial College, London.
- Of the 300 films analysed from the time period 1994-2013, 93 per cent of the movies 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 films rated for older audiences (A rated films) whereas fast-food depiction was prominent in movies targeted for all audiences (U and U/A rated films).
- 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.
“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”, she added.
“The rise in number of noncommunicable 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.
Recommendations by the researchers
- Monitor product placement of unhealthy commodities
- Prohibit funded product placement continuously on all mediums
- Review certifications of films based on product placement of unhealthy products.
- Remove government subsidies in case of any depiction of unhealthy commodities or violation that promotes unhealthy commodities.