Teens, Sugary Drinks, and Exercise: Scare Tactic Works

A low income neighborhood in Baltimore was selected for an interesting behavior test by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. In four corner stores, paper-written signs were put up next to the soft drinks. Then purchase behavior by teens was recorded. The twist -there were three different types of paper signs:

  1. a typical bottle contains 250 calories
  2. a bottle contains around 10% of your daily recommended calories
  3. you’ll need to jog for 50 minutes to burn off the calories in this bottle

Which sign had the most impact on teens’ decisions?

All signs changed the purchase decision. But while the first 2 reduced the purchase of sugary drinks by 40%, the threat of having to run for almost an hour led to a 50% reduction! The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health. More information here and here.

So what did the teens choose instead of soda pop? In some cases – water. But many opted for diet drinks – not an improvement by our standards.

Still, there is hope. Obviously marking the calories in a clearly visible place has an impact on consumers choices. And when done in a creative way, the change can be more meaningful.

So what do you think – Should we add a workout equivalent when presenting Junk Food calories in the Fooducate mobile app?

Get FooducatediPhone App Android App  RSS Subscription or  Email Subscription

Follow us on twitter: twitter.com/fooducate on facebook: facebook.com/fooducate

Get Fooducated

  • Trucker Jy

    Most definitely

  • Dustin

    Yes, that would be awesome. I know I think twice about getting a Venti Frappuccino because of the caloric information given in some stores.

    If I knew the amount of exercise I had to do, I would probably avoid some products altogether. :-)

  • Dustin

    Yes, that would be awesome. I know I think twice about getting a Venti Frappuccino because of the caloric information given in some stores.

    If I knew the amount of exercise I had to do, I would probably avoid some products altogether. :-)

  • Dana

    Absolutely!

  • jnwalsh1

    Put up a sign on a McDonald’s door telling people they’d have to run a half marathon to burn off the 1,300 calories in a super size Big Mac value meal and see how that goes!

  • DennisHelstrom@Gmail.com

    llove your program and app. yes. a link to the lose-it app would also be nice. would like to have your app provide and grade fast food restraint menus….

  • Eli

    Yes, I think having exercise equivalents is a fabulous idea!

  • Cjccwood

    Yes, for foods that need the most awareness impact. If everything had  exercise equivalents, I am afraid teens would start to ignore the warnings.
    Such notices are good for all of us!

  • http://twitter.com/mrstymon Bridget

    Yes. Show the workout equivalent.

  • Alona

    I would be thrilled to see an exercise equivalent added to the app! Giving caloric intake real world relevance is hugely effective and was the driving force behind my 60 lb weight loss. Since then, I’ve found that all people think in terms of numbers or the size of food and not the calories or nutritional value. For instance, I’ll hear people say I only had one cookie (not realizing that cookie was 300+ calories and will take 3 miles to work off).

  • Ann

    That seems like a much more tangible piece of information to give someone. Especially for kids, calories for one product can seem hard to understand as part of the whole day’s intake.

  • Pingback: What tha… it’s Monday already?!? – SAPT

  • Pingback: A Kid-and-Food Link Round-Up!

  • Ashley

    Yes please!!! That would be awesome!!!