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Warning Labels on Sugar-sweetened Beverages: An Eye Tracking Approach

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Objectives: In this study, we examined visual attention of a warning label on a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) and its effects on visual attention to SSB product descriptors and perceptions of SSB using eye tracking technology. Methods: We had 180 young adults view an image of a generic soda can with or without a text warning on a computer monitor. Results: Participants spent less time looking at marketing elements on the can in the "Warning" condition compared to the "No warning" (control) condition. Compared to the control, participants in the "Warning" condition viewed the sugar-sweetened beverage as less healthy (1.78 warning vs 2.21 control, p < .01) and believed that drinking SSBs contributed to diabetes (5.70 warning vs 5.27 control, p < .01). Visual attention to warning label was associated with correct recall of the warning and opting out of purchasing the can. Conclusions: Textual warning on SSB reduced visual attention to marketing elements on the can. Although there were few statistically significant differences between the conditions on most measures of product appeal or risk perception, warnings increased some perceived risks of SSBs indicating that warning labels on SSBs might be a promising strategy in informing consumers, particularly young adults, about risks of added sugars.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA;, Email: [email protected] 2: Senior Research Scientist, RTI International, Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, Research Triangle Park, NC 3: Economist, RTI International, Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, Research Triangle Park, NC 4: Senior Social Scientist, RTI International, Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, Research Triangle Park, NC

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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