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Sugar Warning Labels Might Help Parents Skip Soda for Children

Survey suggests warnings of tooth decay, obesity, diabetes could reduce sugary drink sales

THURSDAY, Jan. 14, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Health warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages — similar to those on cigarette packs — might make parents less likely to buy such beverages for their children, according to research published online Jan. 14 in Pediatrics.

In the new study, lead researcher Christina Roberto, Ph.D., and her colleagues conducted an online survey of 2,381 parents who had at least one child aged 6 to 11 years. In a simulated online shopping experiment, parents were divided into six groups to “buy” drinks for their children. One group saw no warning label on the beverages they would buy; another saw a label listing calories. The other four groups saw various warning labels about the potential health effects of sugary beverage intake, including weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.

Overall, only 40 percent of those who looked at the health warning labels chose a sugary drink. But, 60 percent of those who saw no label chose a sugary drink, as did 53 percent of those who saw the calorie-only label. There were no significant buying differences between the groups seeing the calorie-only label and no label, the researchers found.

“The warning labels seem to help in a way that the calorie labels do not,” Roberto, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, told HealthDay.

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