The use of health warning labels to discourage sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by children
Corkery, John Martin
Introduction Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is high among children and is linked to an increased risk of diet-related diseases such as obesity and dental decay. This review aimed to investigate the effectiveness of using health warning labels (HWLs) as a strategy to discourage SSB consumption by children. Methods A systematic literature review of studies published from 2015 to 2019 was conducted using four electronic databases and citation tracking. Search terms included “children*”, “schoolkid*”, “health warning label*” and “sugar-sweetened beverage*”. Identified studies were reviewed using a quality appraisal tool and narrative analysis was performed. Results Six studies with a low risk of bias were included for examination. Moderate quality evidence was found for increases in risk perception and reductions in SSB beverage desirability and selection. Low quality evidence was found for reductions in SSB consumption and positive body weight changes. Discussion and implications for research and practice Moderate to low quality evidence supports the use of SSB warning labels as an effective strategy to discourage SSB consumption by children. In the included studies, parental and child exposure to a HWL was shown to reduce the likelihood of SSB selection. HWLs show promise for efficacy but more pragmatic research is required. Stronger evidence could facilitate more effective policy development.