Study: Posting Calories Reduces Purchases of Sugary Drinks

A study, published in the American Journal of Public Health seems to show that previous studies were wrong when it comes to the effect that posting the caloric numbers of sugar laden soft drinks has on dietary choices. In the study, entitled Reduction in Purchases of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Low-Income Black Adolescents After Exposure to Caloric Information, the researchers according to the posted objectives, examined the effect of an intervention to provide caloric information about sugar-sweetened beverages on the number of these beverages purchased.

For the study, four corner convenience stores in a predominantly black lower income neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland were chosen. Three different signs were designed and these were placed in the stores on the cold drink cases. The three signs each had a different focus. One sign was strictly about the calories in the drinks and included both soda and fruit drinks. Another sign said that just one of these highly sugared drinks contained 10 percent of the total recommended daily calories for an average person. The third sign said that it took 50 minutes of running to burn off the number of calories in one of these drinks. The signs were brightly colored to grab the teen’s attention and written in easily understood language.

In total, 1600 drink sales were monitored. Of this number, 400 were baseline and four hundred were associated with each of the three signs. The people who bought the drinks were blacks adolescent between the ages of 12 and 18.

The overall results were everything the researchers could have hoped. They showed that when there was any sign posted, the teens were 40 percent less likely to buy a sugary drink. All of the signs were effective; however, the sign which showed the amount of activity that was required to burn the one drink was the most effective. Having read that, 50 percent of the teens chose not to have the sugary drink.

This study showed that black teenagers will use calorie information, especially when presented in an easy-to-understand format, such as a physical activity equivalent, to make healthier choices when it comes to buying a drink at the local corner store, lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a statement. Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly.

The conclusion is quite obvious, when presented with the overall calories and what that really means, in a way that they could understand, black teens were much more likely to make a smart choice than when they were not presented with this information. Given the fact that low-income blacks are among the most likely to suffer from childhood obesity, this is exciting news.

The researchers in this study are Sara N. Bleich, Bradley J. Herring, and Desmond D. Flagg with the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. Tiffany L. Gary-Webb is with the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York.

Photo credit:

Share with your friends
To report this post you need to login first.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *