Labels that warn about the risks of sugary drinks steered virtual consumers to unsweetened drinks in a study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study used computer modelling to create three virtual cities based on Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia. In the simulation, akin to SimCity, it found that warning labels in shops and restaurants that sell sugary drinks reduced both obesity and overweight prevalence. The virtual warning labels contained messages that sugar contributes to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.
“This study also highlights the importance of warning label design,” says Marie C. Ferguson, MSPH, research associate at the Bloomberg School’s Global Obesity Prevention Center. “Efforts to increase readability and incorporate memorable visuals may increase warning-label efficacy and ultimately promote an even greater impact.”
US cities are already considering labelling as a way to reduce sugar consumption. In 2015 San Francisco passed an ordinance mandating warning labels on sugary drinks. However, earlier this year the US appeals court blocked this ordinance. Baltimore are considering passing a similar ordinance for warning labels.
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