Warning Label Similar to Cigarettes Could Encourage Parents Not to Buy Sugary Drinks for Kids

To say that Alabama has a problem with dental care would be far from controversial. Data from a 2012 FluorideAlert.org report found that two out of every five Alabama schoolchildren were estimated to have untreated tooth decay. The results of a recent research survey have found evidence that suggests a warning label indicating such information could actually discourage parents from buying it for their kids.

According to HealthDay News and reported by WebMD, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine have found a positive correlation between including cigarette-style health warning labels on sugary drinks and a parent’s decision to buy the product.

“The warning labels seem to help in a way that the calorie labels do not,” said Christina Roberto, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the school.

The online survey that she and her colleagues conducted, which was published in the January edition of the journalPediatrics, surveyed about 2,400 parents who had at least one child between the ages of six and 11. The participants were divided into six groups and performed simulated shopping experiences.

One group saw labels listing only calories, another saw no labels at all, and the other four saw various different labels that warned of health risks — like obesity, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes — that can result from consuming sugary drinks.

The results were statistically significant. About 40% of parents who looked at the health warning labels ultimately still selected sugary drinks. That number jumped to 60% for the group that saw no label. The number was just over half (53%) for those who looked at the calorie-labeled drinks.

It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone paying attention that soft drinks can have such adverse effects. According to a study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, soda is the most significant factor when it comes to dental erosion.

Still, as humans we tend to have a bad habit of not listening to advice or information until it’s staring us right in the face. This trial of health-conscious consumer buying habits seems to support just that.