Researchers found that there were minimal differences in the effects produced by the four different variations of the warning labels. However, all four of the warning labels proved to have a more powerful impact than the calorie version. Fifty-three percent of parents who saw just the calorie label said they would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage for their kids compared to the 40 percent of parents who said they would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage for their kids after viewing the health warning labels.
“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. “This shows policymakers and the public health community that warning labels could be an effective approach to reducing children’s consumption of sugary beverages.”
The study also evaluated consumer support for sugar-sweetened beverage warning labels and found that nearly 75 percent of parents who participated in this study overall support them, with strong support from Republicans (73%), Independents (66%) and Democrats (79%).
“Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in Americans’ diets and cutting their consumption, especially among our youngest children, is critical if we want to ensure that all kids grow up at a healthy weight,” said John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director, RWJF. “Parents want their children to have nutritious foods and beverages, but it’s essential that we give them the information they need to make healthier choices about what they buy and feed their kids. This study shows that health warning labels can be one part of the solution.”
The sample for this study comprised 2,381 parents of a child between six to 11 years old with a large proportion of racial and ethnic minority participants who tend to have the highest obesity rates in the United States. The sample also represented a range of education levels. Participants were recruited through Survey Sampling International.
There is a large body of research that reveals health warning labels on tobacco products are associated with increased consumer knowledge of the risks associated with tobacco usage and that large, comprehensive warning labels have helped promote smoking cessation and may prevent smoking initiation among youth.
About HEALTHY EATING RESEARCH
Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program supports research on environmental and policy strategies with strong potential to promote healthy eating among children to prevent obesity, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. For more information, visit www.healthyeatingresearch.org.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.