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Soaps need more water, less booze, says report on obesity

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Iconic EastEnders landmark, the Queen Victoria

Iconic EastEnders landmark, the Queen Victoria

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Iconic EastEnders landmark, the Queen Victoria

The nation's favourite soap characters should avoid alcohol and hot drinks and choose a glass of water to encourage fans to keep hydrated, according to a study.

Popular soaps like EastEnders and Coronation Street are famed for their pubs, but the prevalence of booze and soft drink consumption in the Queen Vic and the Rovers Return, as well as a host of other dramas, is "shocking" and "unacceptable", an expert has said.

Analysis of nearly 3,000 minutes of national television found little more than one in 20 soap characters' drinks were a glass of water, while more than a third were alcoholic beverages.

Just under half were hot drinks and 7% were soft drinks or fizzy pop, the study for the National Hydration Council (NHC), titled The TV Water Shortage, discovered.

With Britain facing a growing obesity epidemic Emma Kenny, a media psychologist, claimed programme makers had "failed" to take advantage of their ability to positively influence viewers' lifestyles. NHC researchers assessed British-made soap operas, dramas and sitcoms set in the present day and shown on BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as The Archers on Radio 4.

Over two one-week periods all the soaps gave similar amounts of time to drinks, between 13% and 14%, although Hollyoaks stood out with drinks only receiving 6% of screen time.

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