Warning labels on packages of sugary treats may stop parents from buying them, a new study suggests. Researchers explored how these warning labels, reminiscent of the ones on cigarette cartons, influence parents in terms of buying sweetened beverages for their kids.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia conducted the experiment on 2,381 parents who participated in an online survey.
The parents were asked to choose from 12 sugary drinks and eight low-sugar beverages like unsweetened juices, water and diet sodas. Some didn't have labels, some had a calorie label, while the others had a label warning that sugar content can lead to health conditions like obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
The researchers found that only 40 percent of the parents selected sweetened drinks with labels showing the dangers of excess sugar consumption. 60 percent chose the no-label drinks, while 53 percent chose the drinks that showed calorie content.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 18 percent of all children and teens in the United States are obese. Studies show that the lack of physical activity and the over-consumption of sugary drinks are some of the reasons why childhood obesity is a growing predicament in the United States.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that marking containers with warning signs may help reduce sugar intake among children. These warning labels helped parents understand the health effects of added sugars to their children's and being aware of these risks would help them make more informed choices.
"Health warning labels on [sugar-sweetened beverages] (SSB) improved parents' understanding of health harms associated with over-consumption of such beverages and may reduce parents' purchase of SSBs for their children" the researchers concluded.
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