Soap operas including Coronation Street and EastEnders have been criticised for regularly showing characters drinking but rarely showing them hungover.
Research published by the charity Drinkaware found alcohol features in more than a third (38%) of soap airtime.
They monitored four shows – Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks – over six weeks and found 383 scenes where characters drank alcohol but only 12 that showed them hungover.
Characters bought 836 drinks, equivalent to more than 3,000 units of alcohol, during the study including 188 pints of beer, 286 glasses of wine and champagne.
Top of the tipple chart was Emmerdale with an average of eight drinks consumed each episode with Coronation Street and EastEnders not far behind on seven.
Hollyoaks was more sober with an average of four drinks in each show.
Drinkaware’s chief executive Chris Sorek said: “British soaps’ current representation of the substantial role alcohol plays in people’s lives isn’t too far from reality, but with research showing people, and particularly children, make assumptions about acceptable real-life behaviour from their television viewing, it’s important the negative effects of drinking too much aren’t down-played.
“Weaving some consequences of drinking to excess into soaps won’t require fundamental script or storyline changes- even a passing reference to a hangover will start to nudge reform of the on-screen drinking ‘norm’.
“When viewers sit down to watch a soap they want to be entertained and certainly aren’t expecting to see a public health campaign. But soaps are still a useful channel to get information to viewers.
“We need to avoid normalising the idea of consequence-free drinking to excess, especially among under 18s, so people of all ages can make informed decisions about their own drinking based on the facts.”