Persuading Kids to Skip Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Persuading Kids to Skip Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages are contributing to obesity in children. But researchers have found a way to get the message about their calorie content across to kids.

Since Kim Mitchell sang “Go for a Soda” back in (gulp) 1985, obesity rates in children have almost tripled. Today 26 percent of 2- to 17-year-old Canadian kids are overweight or obese. One reason for that weight gain is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as pop, juice, and  energy and sports drinks.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hypothesized that if kids knew how many calories were in sugar-sweetened beverages such as pop or sports drinks, they might go for a water instead.

Study details

Their study was conducted at four corner stores located in low-income, predominately black Baltimore neighbourhoods, but their findings would seem to apply to other locations too.

Researchers randomly posted one of three signs at the stores:

  • “Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 250 calories?”
  • “Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 10 percent of your daily calories?”
  • “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?”

The researchers collected data from 1,600 beverage sales to black teens aged 12 to 18 years, 400 during a baseline period, and 400 during the time each of the three signs were displayed.

50 percent less sales

The third sign that advised purchasers how long it would take to burn off the beverage resulted in 50 percent less sales of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Presenting caloric information in a way that gets the message across could help to lower obesity rates by appealing to consumers of all ages to make healthier choices. And maybe they’ll just decide to go for a water instead.

 

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