Drink Drama: Calories Make Teens Think Twice

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(CNN) — Signs that bring attention to the number of calories in sugary beverages have the power to dissuade teens from buying them, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Previous research has shown that the average American teenager drinks approximately 300 calories a day in sugar-sweetened beverages including soda, which can lead to obesity and other related health problems.

“Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly,” lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a press release about the study.

The study’s authors used three methods to try to discourage teens from purchasing sugary drinks in a convenience store. The first sign posted noted that a typical bottle contains 250 calories. The second sign said the bottle contains around 10% of the average teenager’s daily recommended calories. The third sign told teens they would have to jog for 50 minutes to burn off the calories in the drink.

Researchers found that all three signs reduced the odds that teenagers would buy a sugar-sweetened drink by approximately 40%, but that the third option reduced the odds by 50%. Teens faced with this information instead chose to purchase water or diet soda.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chain restaurants and retail food establishments – companies whose primary business is selling food – with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus. The rule would also require calorie counts on vending machines. The calorie information would have to be “displayed clearly and prominently” and be listed per item or per serving, according to the FDA’s website.

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