According to a new study, warning labels on soda that were considered by the California Legislature might have been able to achieve their desired effect, after all. To some extent, the point is moot, because the legislation was defeated in June of this year. However, the mere proposal of the warning label might have achieved its goal by other means, as the top beverage manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to try to reduce consumption of soda, in a move supported by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Analyzing the Effect of Warning Labels

As we mentioned in our commentary on the warning label legislation, there wasn’t really any good evidence suggesting that warning labels would be effective on sodas. This new study sought to determine whether warning labels were effective by actually putting some up.

Instead of putting warning labels on actual drinks, it should be noted, researchers put up brightly colored warnings signs in corner shops in neighborhoods in Baltimore for six weeks. Researchers used four different signs: one that showed it would take 50 minutes of running to work off the 250 Calories in a 20-ounce bottle of soda and three that stated the sugar content and calories.

They determined the impact of the signs by interviewing children age 12 to 18 as they left the shop, and tracking drink purchases. The bad news is that only 35% of kids saw the signs. The good news is that 40% of those that saw the signs changed their behavior as a result. The effect was demonstrated by drink purchases. Sugary drink purchases dropped from 98% to 89% of all drink purchases. And while the signs were on display, the purchase of larger bottles of soda dropped from 54% to 37% of all purchases.

An Industry Solution

However, there’s probably no need now to consider legislation about warning labels on sodas because a comprehensive new agreement among soda manufacturers will put them up voluntarily. The agreement, reached between Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the Clinton Foundation, is a pledge from the soda companies to try to reduce consumption of sugary drinks by 20% by 2025. The goal will be achieved in part through the use of warning labels on cooler doors and soda fountains, but also by offering and promoting more alternatives that don’t contain as much sugar.

Although the agreement doesn’t reference the California legislation, SB 1000 probably was seen as the writing on the wall, prompting the major companies to work together to preserve competition and utilize consumer choice as a tool to prevent regulation of their industry.

This is a move that allows us all to smile–with healthier teeth, no less.

And if your teeth have already suffered damage, we have another reason for you to smile: we can repair the damage and give you back your bright, beautiful smile. To learn how, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.