Reduction in Purchases of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Low-Income, Black Adolescents After Exposure to Caloric Information

Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs)—soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks—have been associated with childhood obesity.

To determine which method of providing calorie information is most effective, researchers tested three caloric information forms on the purchase patterns of SSBs in four corner stores in Baltimore frequented by low-income Black adolescents. They hypothesized that relative caloric information—a percent daily value or physical activity equivalent—would have a larger effect on reducing SSB purchases than absolute calorie information.

After collecting baseline data, stores were randomly assigned to display one of three signs for two weeks. The messages all started with “Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice:”

  • Has about 250 calories (condition #1)
  • Has 10 percent of your daily calories (condition #2)
  • Takes 50 minutes of running to work off (condition #3)

At baseline, SSBs accounted for 93.3 percent of all beverage purchases, compared to 87.5 percent during condition #1; 86.5 percent during condition #2; and 86.0 percent during condition #3. Purchases of iced tea and sports drinks declined after intervention, while purchases of water increased. Juice purchases also increased after the intervention, possibly because the adolescents perceived it to be a healthier choice.