Governments have proposed text warning labels to decrease consumption of sugary drinks—a contributor to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. However, they may be less effective than more evocative, graphic warning labels.
Researchers at Harvard University field-tested the effectiveness of graphic warning labels compared to text warning labels, calorie labels, and no labels on sugary drinks purchased in a Massachusetts hospital cafeteria. Additionally, the researchers looked into the psychological mechanisms behind the effectiveness of labeling and evaluated consumer sentiment towards those labels.
The researchers found that graphic warning labels helped reduce the purchase of sugary drinks in favor of water, whereas calorie and text warning labels did not. Graphic warning labels also increased the immediate consideration of health consequences. It was also found that support for graphic warning labels can be increased by conveying effectiveness information. These findings could pave the way for more effective labeling policies that promote healthier choices, do not decrease overall beverage purchases, and are publicly accepted.
Read the full study here.
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