Study Says Sugary Drink Warnings Could Affect Purchases

Study Says Sugary Drink Warnings Could Affect Purchases

January 14, 2016

Warning labels on sugary drinks could discourage parents from purchasing sugary drinks for their kids, according to a study published today in Pediatrics. The findings suggest a label alerting consumers to the health risks associated with sugary drinks would both increase parents’ awareness and decrease the likelihood of parents purchasing sugary drinks for their children.

Increasingly, Americans are calling for policies that publicize health information, including the specific health effects of sugary drink consumption. According to a Field Research poll released this week, 78 percent of California voters support a warning label on sugary drinks. ChangeLab Solutions has developed Model Legislation Requiring a Safety Warning for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages for states that want to implement a policy requiring a safety warning on sugary drink containers and packaging.
 
“We may not be used to thinking these beverages are as dangerous as tobacco or alcohol, but there is a large and growing body of research linking sugary drinks with obesity, overweight, and chronic disease, especially for kids,” said Ian McLaughlin, senior staff attorney and program director at ChangeLab Solutions. “As the study indicates, warning labels on sugary drinks can help parents make the best decisions for themselves and their family.”
 
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the study released today through its Healthy Eating Research program. It’s one of the first studies to examine the impact of health warning labels on sugary drinks, and includes several important findings:
 
  • Forty percent of participating parents said they would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage for their kids after viewing a warning label, compared to 60 percent of participating parents who saw no label (and compared to 53 percent who saw just a calorie label).
  • Nearly 75 percent of parents who participated in this study overall support sugary warning labels.
  • Health warning labels may reduce parents’ perception of the healthfulness of sugary drinks and the ability of these beverages to boost kids’ energy and focus. Additionally, the labels may increase parents’ understanding of their child’s risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes from consuming these drinks.
“This study suggests that sugar-sweetened beverage warning labels could play an important role in educating parents and may motivate them to buy fewer sugary drinks for their children,” said Christina Roberto, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s lead author.
 
Warning labels are a proven strategy for increasing awareness about the health effects of what people consume. Contact us to learn more about posting warning labels on sugary drinks.