Calorie Posting Reduced Adolescent Sugary Drink Purchases

Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205 Interview with:
Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD 21205

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Bleich: Providing easily understandable calorie information — particularly in the form of miles of walking — makes adolescents more likely to buy a beverage with fewer calories, a healthier beverage or a smaller size beverage. Adolescents were also more likely to not buy any drink at all after seeing the signs with calorie information.

Medical Research: What was most surprising about the results?

Dr. Bleich: The healthier choices – buying fewer calories, fewer sugary beverages and fewer large volume sugary beverages (> 16 ounces) –  persisted for 6 weeks after the signs came down. This suggests that adolescent were educated by the signs and continued to modify their behavior after they were removed.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bleich: When clinicians talk to patients about calories, they should make every effort to communicate that information in a easily understandable format to make it most meaningful. The final rule from the FDA on the implementation of mandatory calorie posting, which requires chain restaurants with more than 20 locations nationwide to post calories on their menu boards alongside price, is imminent. Patients should demand that large chain restaurants post the required calorie information in an easily understandable format so they can make better choices.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bleich: Future research needs to examine whether the most persuasive way of presenting easily understandable calorie information differs among different populations.


Sara N. Bleich, Colleen L. Barry, Tiffany L. Gary-Webb, and Bradley J. Herring.  (2014). Reducing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption by Providing Caloric Information: How Black Adolescents Alter Their Purchases and Whether the Effects Persist. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.

doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302150