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A study from the University of North Carolina found that putting health warnings on sugary drinks could impact consumer behavior. The researchers titled the study The Impact of Pictorial Health Warnings on Purchases of Sugary Drinks For Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial. They published the study in PLOS Medicine.

The researchers found that consumer behavior went down by one-fifth when they labeled these products with warnings of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, they realized that parents who saw the label were less likely to buy the products for their children.

One of the labels the researchers used was a picture with a gangrenous foot due to diabetes. Such images have a powerful effect on whether or not people buy the beverages.

In 2008, the U.K government mandated that tobacco products contain a warning label. Since then, they have considered doing the same thing for sugary drinks. However, they have faced opposition from people who think this would be extreme.

How the researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 325 parents and asked them to buy fruit juices and sodas for their children in a mock supermarket. They showed about 50% of the parents products with graphic labels while the rest weren’t. The products also had a text highlighting that too many sugary drinks could cause heart damage and diabetes.

According to Professor Lindsey Taillie, a lead study author, the warning reduced sugary drink purchases by 17%. These results come when obesity is rising, especially in the U.S and the U.K. Sugary drinks are one of the leading causes of obesity. Moreover, they put people at risk of developing heart issues and type 2 diabetes.

People should restrict intake of added sugars

However, not all sugar is bad for you. Nutritionists typically recommend natural sugars over added sugars. The former has micronutrients, fiber, and water. Added sugar, on the other hand, should not be taken daily.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), women should restrict the consumption of added sugars to about 100 calories per day, while men should avoid over 150 calories. Moreover, experts believe it is best to avoid added sugars completely though this can be difficult with sweeteners in processed food.