Could Labeling Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Push Parents From Not Buying Sugary Drinks For Their Kids

In today’s day and age, many children are consuming way too much sugar than the recommended Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As a result of this high consumption of sugar, many children are at risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Medical researcher’s from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania were interested in finding out if warning labels on sugary beverages would have an effect on parents in whether if they would be less likely to buy those beverages for their kids. Despite the fact that some states are required by law to have warning labels on sugary beverages, there isn’t much evidence which shows how those labels influence purchasing habits of parents. Since 50% of children under the age of eleven drink sugary sweetened beverages often, many worry about the adverse effects linked with the consumption of those beverages, according to Christina Roberto, PHD. According to Dr. Roberto and her researcher’s because of the believe that certain types of sugary sweetened drinks like flavored waters and other sport drinks are healthier options by parents, those need to be labeled as well.

In conducting the study, Dr. Roberto and her researchers carried out an online survey of 2,381 parents, who had a child between the ages of six to eleven years of age. Moreover, most of these participants came from diverse racial and ethnic minorities. The parents were divided into six groups. These groups were a calorie group, which saw a label that showed the amount of calories in that beverage, a control group, which didn’t see warning labels on beverages, and four warning label groups, which saw one of four kinds of warning labels that warned about the possible negative consequences of drinking sugary sweetened beverages. After categorizing them in groups, the participants were asked to choose a beverage for their kid. The results of their choices, depicted that they were similar to those on effects of tobacco warning labels. To be specific, 40% of parents in the health warning label groups said that they would choose a sugary sweetened beverage for their kids as opposed to 60% of the participants who didn’t look at the labels said that they would also choose a sugary sweetened beverage for their kids. Not only that, but 53% of the participants who looked at the the calorie labels also said that they would choose a sugary sweetened beverage for their kids. Overall these results show that including health labels on sugary sweetened beverages is can be a very crucial and influential method in educating parents about the negative health outcomes linked with sugary sweetened beverages, and therefore push them to make less of those purchases for their kids. Also, 75% of those parental participants supported to have them included on sugary sweetened beverages, when they were evaluated for consumer support.

The link between labeling sugary sweetened beverages and parents being less willing to buy those drinks for their kids is connected with smoking and lung cancer in 1950. In 1950, three scientific papers were published in hopes to persuade Americans that smoking was directly and indirectly correlated with cancer, the scientific papers depicted how the from the preceding fifty years of 1950 that lung cancer rates as tobacco consumption increased, illustrated that the biological mechanism to developing lung cancer was due to smoking, it also showed that hospital patients who smoked heavily were more than likely to develop lung cancer than those patients who smoked lightly and didn’t smoke. Because of these undeniable facts about the connection between smoking and cancer, the US Surgeon requires cigarette companies to have warning labels on their products. In the same way, just like cigarettes there’s been a persona in the US and other parts of the world that soda or other sweetened beverages aren’t harmful to people, but with adverse health effects from consuming these products being more and more prevalent in kids in the US in this case, many parents are being more cautious about making purchasing choices on sugary sweetened drinks. Thankfully, warning labels on these beverages has helped many parents in this study make healthy purchasing choices for their kids, and hopefully this will be a continuous thing all around the world. Personally, growing up, my dad would always emphasize to me not to drink soda and other sweetened beverages often, and because of this I’ve been able to maintain a life free of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The influence of sugar-sweetened beverage health warning labels on parents’ choices, Christina A. Roberto et al., Pediatrics, published online January 2016, abstract.
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania news release, accessed 14 January 2016 via Newswise.
CDC, Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005–2008, accessed 14 January 2016.