Sustain has moved and can now be contacted on 0203 5596 777

Warning labels on sugary drinks can lower obesity

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.

Sustain’s Sugar Smart campaign helps local authorities, organisations, workplaces and individuals reduce the amount of sugar we consume in the UK.

Sugar Smart UK


mailing list

Sugar Smart UK: Want your local area to become Sugar Smart?



Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.