Awareness about Sugary Drinks

A new study in Preventive Medicine purports to measure the impact of a mass media campaign to raise awareness about the amount of added sugar in soda and sugary drinks. Given the onslaught of mass media attention to sugary drinks, one wonders how these public health researchers could tease out the impact of any one intervention. But they gave it a shot.

They mounted a campaign of advertising and public relations on the Internet, television, public transit, and billboards in Portland, Oregon. They followed it up with a post-campaign study to assess awareness of the campaign. They compared the attitudes and self-reported behaviors of people who were aware of the campaign to those who were unaware of it.

In the aware group, they found greater agreement that sugar causes health problems and greater intention to offer less sugary drinks to children. They did not find a difference in self-reported soda consumption.

It’s worth noting that, even in people who had not heard of the campaign, they found 86% agreement that too much sugar causes health problems.

We give them credit for acknowledging their limitations. They lack any sort of pre-test measures — a weakness they concede.

We’re fairly drowning in information on the health risks of sugar right now. So to think that one local campaign is tipping the scales is a bit of a stretch. If we look a little harder, we might find that this is not where the knowledge gap presently lies.

“Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.” — Bill Cosby

Click here to read the study.

Aware, photograph © TranceMist / flickr

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