Calorie Info Helps Teens Choose Water Over Sugary Drinks

Sweetened drinks had less appeal when 'exercise-equivalents' were given in study

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Black teens might drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages if they're provided with easy-to-understand facts about calories, especially when the information includes how many minutes of exercise it would take to burn off those calories, researchers have found.

The study, published Dec. 15 in the American Journal of Public Health, was conducted at four stores in low-income, predominately black neighborhoods in Baltimore.

In each store, researchers randomly posted one of three signs with the following caloric information: absolute caloric count; percentage of total recommended daily intake; and physical activity equivalent. They then collected data for 1,600 beverage purchases by black adolescents aged 12 to 18.

The results suggest that displaying easy-to-understand caloric information -- especially the physical activity-calorie equivalents -- may be an effective way to reduce black teens' intake of calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage them to drink more water, the study authors said in a news release from the American Public Health Association.

"Because of the inclusion of mandatory calorie labeling in the recent health reform bill, it is also important to explore the most effective strategies for presenting caloric information to consumers on fast-food restaurant menu boards," Sara Bleich, assistant professor at Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues, said in the news release.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about teens and nutrition.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: American Public Health Association, news release, Dec. 15, 2011

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