British study finds sugary drink interventions may be working

Interventions to reduce sugary drink consumption include campaigns to increase public awareness about the sugar content and the consequences of heavy consumption.

By Amy Wallace
British study finds sugary drink interventions may be working
Researchers have found that intervention programs designed to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks do have some effectiveness. Photo by taa22/Shutterstock

July 19 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Leeds in Great Britain have found that interventions to reduce sugary drink consumption can be effective.

Nutritionists at the university carried out the first comprehensive review of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks by analyzing 40 studies consisting of 16,500 children, teenage and adult participants in Britain.


Researchers found the greatest reduction in sugary drink consumption in interventions aimed at children -- with a 30 percent reduction in consumption.

The study, published July 18 in Obesity, also showed that interventions aimed at teenagers resulted in a 10 percent reduction in sugary drink consumption.

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Researchers found no real measurable change in sugary drink consumption in adults as a result of intervention programs.

"On average sugar intake is two to three times higher than recommended across all age groups. We evaluated these programs to see if they were causing real changes in behavior," Elisa Vargas-Garcia from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said in a news release.

"School is a common place to target obesity-related behavior. However, in the programs aimed at younger populations we found that the interventions that took place in the home were actually more effective."

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Researchers found the programs aimed at children and teens had a variety of different components, such as group-led or class-based sessions that taught the negative health consequences of drinking too many sugary drinks and promoted water as a healthier alternative.

The programs aimed at adults included nutritional advice including setting and monitoring personal goals such as making pledges to drink less sugary drinks.

"It's estimated that children and adults get about a quarter of their sugar from sugary drinks and these drinks are linked with health risks such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay," Dr. Charlotte Evans, of Leeds, said.

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"This systematic review is one of many actions needed to plan and implement the best methods to change behaviors and attitudes towards sugary drinks. We also need action to improve the wider environment by making sugary drinks more expensive, less available and less desirable through taxation, reformulation and reduced marketing."

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