Traffic light labels can cut sugary drink consumption, research suggests
Increasing the price of sugary drinks in restaurants and using traffic light labelling can help reduce consumption, a study suggests.
A number of measures appear to be effective in cutting intake of sugary drinks, according to a new Cochrane review of available evidence.
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and is one area being targeted by governments to tackle obesity.
The review included 58 international studies, involving more than one million participants, which examined ways to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.
The researchers, from the UK and Germany, found evidence to support a number of interventions.
These included introducing easy-to-understand labels, such as traffic light labels, to show how healthy a drink is.
Traffic light labelling is currently optional on food and drinks in the UK but there have been calls to make it mandatory after Britain’s departure from the EU.
Limiting availability of products in schools, price increases in restaurants, shops and leisure centres, and promoting healthier options in supermarkets were also linked with reduced consumption of sugary drinks, the review found.
Professor Hans Hauner, one of the authors of the review, from Technical University Munich in Germany, said: “Rates of obesity and diabetes are rising globally, and this trend will not be reversed without broad and effective action.
“Governments and industry in particular must do their part to make the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers.
“This review highlights key measures that can help to accomplish this.”
Evidence on the effectiveness of taxes on sugary drinks, as introduced in the UK last year, will be subject to a separate review.
Commenting on the findings, Dr James Doidge, senior research associate at University College London, said: “Cochrane reviews provide some of the most valuable, fair and transparent summaries of the available evidence on many health interventions.
“While this review provides useful insights into environmental measures that could be implemented to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, one really interesting question is how these measures stack up against the taxes that are currently being implemented or considered by many governments.”