A national policy requiring health labels on sugar-sweetened beverages could make a significant impact on the obesity epidemic in the United States, according to results of a study from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Dr. Anna Grummon, a doctoral graduate of the Gillings School, is lead author of “Health Warnings on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Simulation of Impacts on Diet and Obesity Among U.S. Adults,” published online October 17 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Excess consumption of sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks and sweetened teas is a major contributor to obesity, a condition which impacts 40 percent of American adults. To reduce consumption of these products, policymakers have proposed requiring health warnings on sugary drinks. While randomized trials indicate that health warnings do reduce sugary drink purchases, it has been unclear if these policies would also influence health outcomes like obesity.
Using a microsimulation model of dietary behaviors and body weight, the researchers found that, relative to the status quo, implementing a national sugar-sweetened beverage health warning policy would reduce intake of these beverages by more than 25 calories/day and total energy intake by 31.2 calories/day.
“Our study suggests that showing warning labels on sugary drinks is a promising strategy for addressing the obesity epidemic in the U.S.,” Grummon says. “We found that warnings would reduce obesity prevalence by more than three percentage points. While that number might sound modest, on a national scale it equates to more than five million fewer people with obesity.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 01