1 Sep 2016

Call for plain packaging on soft drinks

12:30 pm on 1 September 2016

Plain packaging and graphic warning labels could potentially reduce soft drink consumption amongst young people, according to a world-first study by the University of Auckland.

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Photo: 123rf.com

A team of researchers surveyed 600 young people, aged 13-24, online to find out what impact plain packaging and warning labels would have on their buying habits.

It found that plain packaging and warning labels had a bigger impact than price on whether or not a young person would buy a particular soft drink.

Research leader Dr Cliona Ni Mhurchu said branding was a major factor in their decision making.

"In terms of preferences, we found that plain packaging and warning labels and pricing all significantly reduced the attractiveness of soft drinks for young people," she told Nine to Noon.

"When we moved on to look a bit more closely at how likely were children and young people to buy these products, we found that the two interventions that had the biggest affects were plain packaging and warning labels, that they actually had bigger affects than pricing."

Dr Ni Mhurchu said between half and two-thirds of the young people surveyed supported putting warnings on sugary beverages.

Soft drinks are the biggest source of sugar in young New Zealanders' diets and sugar consumption is associated with health problems like tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.

Based on the results of the study, Dr Ni Mhurchu said consideration should be given to plain packaging of soft drinks, as is about to happen for tobacco.

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