Warning labels can scare folks away from sugary drinks

People are less likely to buy sugary drinks if they see warning labels that include graphic pictures of health consequences such as obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, researchers report.

They conducted a study in the cafeteria of a hospital in Massachusetts. Three different types of labels were displayed one at a time for a few weeks near the bottled and fountain beverages. The labels were: text warnings on the health risks of sugary drinks, graphic warnings on the same, or a listing of calories in the drinks.

When the graphic warning labels were posted, there was a nearly 15 percent drop in sugary drink sales, and consumers appeared to substitute bottled water for sugary drinks. The average calories per drink sold decreased from 88 calories to 75.

The text-only warning labels and calorie labels had no effect on sales of sugary drinks, according to the Harvard University study published online June 18 in the journal Psychological Science.

"Warning labels have been around a long time for tobacco products, but they're a new concept for sugary drinks," said study co-lead author Grant Donnelly, an assistant professor of marketing at Ohio State University and a former doctoral student at Harvard Business School.



Related News