Study: Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks May Deter Parents from Serving Them to Children

Health warning labels on sugary beverages may deter parents from buying them for their children, according to the results of a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that was published in January.

The study used an online survey of 2,381 parents to test the effects of five different labels that either displayed calorie content or warned that beverages with added sugars contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Parents were 20 percentage points less likely to say they would choose a sugar-sweetened beverage for their kids if they viewed a health warning label on its packaging than those who did not view a warning label.

"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," 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, said in a news release about the research. "This shows policymakers and the public health community that warning labels could be an effective approach to reducing children's consumption of sugary beverages."

Sugary drinks can be especially harmful to oral health. When sodas, juices or sports drinks are consumed for long periods of time, plaque bacteria use that sugar to produce acids that attack the teeth's enamel, and the risk of tooth decay is increased, according to the American Dental Association's consumer website, MouthHealthy.org.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, also concluded that a health warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages may reduce parents' perception of the healthfulness of sugar-sweetened beverages and the ability of the drinks to boost kids' energy and focus.

For more information about nutrition and oral health, visit www.MouthHealthy.org.

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