Over the past several years a tremendous amount of research has come forward which showcases the negative effects of excess sugar consumption. As a society we are finally beginning to understand just how toxic sugar is to our bodies, as well as extremely addictive; studies have even demonstrated that sugar can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

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Many people have taken steps to cut back on their sugar intake, as they have come to understand just how harmful this substance is to their bodies, but what about those who have no knowledge of the dangers of this sweet substance? Not everyone has access to this type of information or interest in researching nutrition on their own. There are many people who drink soda on a regular basis, and while they may be concerned about the caloric content, remain unaware of the more immediate dangers posed by the sugar itself. I always say, the first step to creating change on this planet is to raise awareness, so if we really do want something to change, we have to make sure everyone knows about it!

Should Soda Come With A Warning Label?

According to a new study, health warning labels on sugary drinks may steer parents away from buying these beverages for themselves and their children. Researchers asked 2,381 parents to complete various online surveys, asking them to select a drink for their child out of 20 different options. Parents were also required to answer questions about how healthy they thought the beverages were. Of the choices, 12 of them were considered sugar sweetened because more than 75 calories per serving came from added sugars. These beverages included soda and fruit juices. The remaining 8 were water, unsweetened (or less sweetened) juice, and diet soda.

Some of the parents involved in the study viewed images of the sugary drink options with health warning labels on the front of the bottle. These labels stated, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.” Other parents saw the typical calorie label on the front of the bottle, which is already displayed voluntarily. For the other group of parents, no warning label was shown.

The researchers found that parents were less likely to choose the soda or juice for their child if those drinks had health warning labels. Only 40% of the parents who saw the warning labels still chose the sugary drink option compared with the 53% of parents who saw the calorie label only and 60% who were shown no label at all.

“We are trying to make a link between the high sugar content and the calories and the actual downstream outcomes [of sugary drinks]. You can say that something has 18 or 24 grams of sugar, but most people have no clue what a gram is,” said David Hammond, professor in the school of public health at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

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“[Health warning labels] provide an extra layer of information that people can understand,” added Hammond, who led the research, which was published on Thursday in the journal  Pediatrics.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of Sugar?

Currently there are bills under consideration in New York and California that, if passed, would require sugar sweetened beverages to come with a health warning label on their packaging. I get the feeling that this is all sounding fairly familiar to you? The push to put warning labels on soda and other sugary drinks is very similar to what led to the appearance of such labels on tobacco products back in 1965. Before then, people were mostly unaware that smoking was bad for them. The story with sugar today is much the same.

Hammond also stated that, as this study suggests, labels may have the intended effect of reducing people’s consumption of sugary drinks and may also give policy makers further impetus to pass these bills.

A potential concern for these labels is that people may become desensitized to them over time, but considering how public perception of smoking has changed in recent years, it seems at least worth a try. When people know how harmful something can be, they are more likely to make a change. We just have to give them the option.

What do you think? Should sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juices come with a health warning label? Share in the comments section below!

Sources are imbedded within this article.

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