Published: February 2022

ID #: 76290

Journal: PLoS Med

Authors: Hall MG, Grummon AH, Higgins ICA, Lazard AJ, Prestemon CE, Avendaño-Galdamez MI, et al.

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This study aimed to examine the impact of pictorial warnings on parents’ purchases of sugary drinks for their children in a naturalistic store laboratory. Parents of children ages 2 to 12 (n = 325, 25% identifying as Black, 20% Hispanic) completed a shopping task in a naturalistic store laboratory in North Carolina. Participants were randomly assigned to a pictorial warnings arm (sugary drinks displayed pictorial health warnings about type 2 diabetes and heart damage) or a control arm (sugary drinks displayed a barcode label). Pictorial warnings led to a 17-percentage point reduction in purchases of sugary drinks (95% CI for reduction: 7% to 27%), with 45% of parents in the control arm buying a sugary drink for their child compared to 28% in the pictorial warning arm (p = 0.002). The impact of pictorial warnings on purchases did not differ by any of the 13 participant characteristics examined (e.g., race/ethnicity, income, education, and age of child). Pictorial warnings also led to lower calories (kcal), purchased from sugary drinks (82 kcal in the control arm versus 52 kcal in the pictorial warnings arm, p = 0.003). Moreover, pictorial warnings led to lower intentions to serve sugary drinks to their child, feeling more in control of healthy eating decisions, greater thinking about the harms of sugary drinks, stronger negative emotional reactions, greater anticipated social interactions, lower perceived healthfulness of sugary drinks for their child, and greater injunctive norms to limit sugary drinks for their child (all p < 0.05).

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