Mass Media Campaign Can Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH Health Commissioner Department of Public Health City of Philadelphia

Dr. Thomas Farley

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH
Health Commissioner
Department of Public Health
City of Philadelphia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Messages in the mass media have been used in anti-smoking campaigns, but have not be used much for other health-related behaviors. Sugar-sweetened beverages are major contributors to the obesity epidemic in the United States, so they are an important public health target.

In this study we evaluated a brief counter-advertising campaign in a rural area of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky designed to reduce consumption of these beverages. After the campaign, adults in the area were more wary of sugary drinks, and sales of sugary drinks fell by about 4% relative to changes in a matched comparison area.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Counter-advertising is a potentially effective way to combat the obesity epidemic. More organizations working in this area should try campaigns like this and evaluate them.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Mass media campaigns have been overlooked as ways to address health-related behaviors. More research is needed on the effectiveness of counter-advertising campaigns, and particularly on the relationship between the “dose” of the campaign – that is, the number of times the target audience views the messages – and the change in behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Companies that sell unhealthy products like sugar-sweetened beverages advertise heavily, so they must believe that advertising influences behavior. Organizations that care about population health, from health departments to hospitals, should take note of this and see learn how to use the same tools to protect people from this advertising and promote healthier behavior.

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Citation: AJPH

Mass Media Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in a Rural Area of the United States

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