Sugary drinks signs help change habits of teens


Signs that warn consumers on how much exercise they should do to burn off the calories they gain from sugary drinks may trigger healthy choices, researchers from the Baltimore-based John Hopkins University (JHU) recently suggested.

As part of a study the researchers observed the purchasing habits of teenagers and they found youngsters purchased lesser number of sugary drinks and increased their water when the warning signs were put up.

The researchers published the findings of their study in the American Journal of Public Health.

One of the most impactful sign indicated that it takes at least 8 km of walk to burn off 250 calories gained from the sugary drink.

Meanwhile, UK’s Public Health Department said the study revealed that simple messages on health were more impactful.

Assistant Professor at JHU and the study leader Dr Sara Bleich observed generally people fail to understand calorie content listed out on any label.

Dr Bleich explained their research indicated that when the calories are explained in a simple way with examples a behavior change can be encouraged among consumers.

Researchers displayed colorful signs for six weeks in neighborhood shops in Baltimore in full view of teenage customers of sugary drinks.

The researchers said sugary drinks like fizzy drinks and fruit juices may have at least nine teaspoons of sugar in one can.

To know the impact of their colorful signs, the American researchers interviewed consumers in the 12 to18 year’s age group while they were leaving the shop.

Before researchers put up the colorful signs, 98 percent of the drinks purchased in the shops were sugary drinks. However, after six weeks of the study, that percentage slumped to 89 percent.

During the study period, sales of bigger bottles of the fizzy drinks fell from 54 percent to 37 percent.

Interestingly, only 27 percent of teenagers chose to purchase sugary drinks against the 33 percent prior to the study.

Researchers said even after the colorful signs were taken down this change in the teenage consumer behaviour were observed for a number of weeks.

They also observed that a total of 3,000 sugary drinks were bought during the study period.

Observing that these findings may help in their fight against obesity, Dr Bleich said this is a cheaper way to influence teenagers to consume lesser number sugary drinks. She also said the impact of the campaign was felt even after the colorful signs were removed.

She also said these innovative signs could surly help encourage prevention of obesity and loss of weight.

Nutritionist Kawther Hashem of a campaign group called Action on Sugar felt any initiative that helps in drawing public attention to the dangers of drinking excessive calories is a good thing.

Hashem further observed the most critical issue was to convince the manufacturers of soft drinks to cut down on the quantity of sugar used to manufacture the drinks.

Chief nutritionist at the Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone, observed that the study was an interesting one and it demonstrates that there is need to display clear and simple messages to encourage consumers to have healthier diets.


Related posts: