According to the latest US research, adding easy-to-read warning signs about the sugary drinks encourages the shoppers to go for the healthier choices. A study on teenagers explicitly showed that they purchased fewer sugary drinks when warning signs were made prominent.
Reportedly, the most influential sign said that in order to burn the 250 calories contained in a sugary drink, one was supposed to walk for five miles.
According to research authors, the study showed that simple health messages worked. Study leader Dr. Sara Bleich, associate professor at the Bloomberg School, John Hopkins University, said people do not understand calorie content on its own on a label. “What our research found is that when you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking is needed to burn them off, you can encourage behaviour change.”
Researchers analyzed more than 3,000 drink purchases by children ages 7 to 18 at stores in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods and found that sugary drinks accounted for 98% of the beverages kids bought. But when researchers put up colorful signs with calorie information, that figure dropped to 89%.
For six weeks, the brightly coloured signs were displayed in corner shops in neighbourhoods in Baltimore, in full view of young customers buying sugary drinks. Four different signs were used in the shops. Two translated the calories in the drinks into the amount of exercise needed to burn off those calories.
Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas and energy drinks contribute significantly to a number of public health ailments that harm children, including obesity. In low-income communities the problem is especially rampant: Sugary drink consumption accounts for about 15% of a minority adolescent’s caloric intake, more than twice the recommended quantity. Interventions like this might help decrease that disparity.
“Using these easy-to-understand and easy-to-install signs may help promote obesity -prevention or weight loss,” said associate professor at the Bloomberg School, John Hopkins University.
Moreover Dr. Sara Bleich explained that people couldn’t understand the calories content on the label provided. The research shows that adding easy and understandable labels influence the behavioral change in picking a product.
To find out the impact of the signs, the researchers – writing in the American Journal of Public Health – interviewed children aged between 12 and 18 years old leaving the shop.