Britain's television soaps are encouraging teenage viewers to drink by presenting alcohol consumption as "part of a healthy lifestyle", a survey claims.

In the survey published in the Food magazine, over 17 per cent of scenes shown during Coronation Street and 16 per cent of shots in EastEnders and Emmerdale featured alcohol while Australian soap Home And Away limited alcohol to 6.7 per cent of screen time.

However Hollyoaks, which is broadcast Monday to Friday at 18:30 GMT and claims to be the UK's most watched teenage drama serial, had the most scenes featuring alcohol. During the survey period, 18 per cent of the Chester-based soap's scenes contained alcohol.

Alcohol appeared as the most dominant food group in Hollyoaks with appearances in almost 40 per cent of background scenes yet, in contrast, dairy products were the dominant food group in less than one per cent of shots.

"Soap shows are awash with scenes showing alcohol being consumed as part of a seemingly healthy lifestyle and appearing as a normal part of everyday life," author of the study Cally Matthews said.

"There is a real danger that this naturalisation of alcohol consumption may desensitise teenagers to the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption," she added.

Previous studies have also found a high volume of shots featuring alcohol in soaps broadcast in the UK.

One study in 2003 found that alcohol was primarily used in soaps to denote celebrations and to aid romance. It also found no explicit portrayal of alcoholism but, instead, a tendency to portray potential problem drinkers in a light-hearted way.

10/03/2007 08:45:30