Warning: Sugar Content Higher Than It May Appear

Warning labels can be found on beer, cigarettes, and medications. Now a warning label may be coming to a sugary beverage near you.

Eating healthy in America is hard. Some believe that regulations and taxes could curb potential health hazards – such as sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks, and sport drinks. California, New York, and Baltimore are proposing legislation that does just that. While any specific message on a product, be it calorie content or something else, may be ignored upon purchase, putting warning labels on sugary beverages may actually deter people.

An online survey led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania evaluated 2,400 parents from various backgrounds. They were shown graphics of fictitious beverage bottles: with no label, with a calorie label, and with different variations of warning labels. Only 40% of parents selected the sugar-sweetened beverages with the warning label, as opposed to 53% who chose the one with the calorie label and 60% the one with no label. Apparently, calorie labels are not as effective as warnings about tooth decay and diabetes.

Physicians and parents in Baltimore are supporting the proposed labeling policy. The beverage industry is fighting hard, lobbying to reject the warning labels. The researchers don’t believe the effect of the labels would be as strong in the real world, but would influence future purchases somewhat.
Barclay, Eliza. “Warning Labels Might Help Parents Buy Fewer Sugary Drinks, Study Finds.” The Salt. NPR, 14 Jan 2016. Web. 17 Jan 2016.

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