A new study from University of Washington and University of Pennsylvania, led by HFA Executive Director Jim Krieger, found that social media countermarketing messages about sugary fruit drinks reduced parents purchases for their children of these beverages in a simulated online store. Water purchases increased. Consumption of sugary drinks, in particular fruit drinks, is common among young children - especially among Latinx children - and is associated with significant adverse health outcomes. Industry marketing leads parents to believe fruit drinks are healthy beverages by creating a “halo of health” around the product. Ads and labels often contain claims about beneficial nutrients and images of fruit.
The study divided 1628 Latinx parents of children age 0-5 into three groups. One intervention group received fruit drink countermessages only. A second received a combination of countermessages plus water promotion messages. The third control group received car seat safety messages. Parents in the fruit-drink countermarketing group decreased their virtual purchases of fruit drinks by 31% compared to the control group, and by 43% in the group receiving the combined messages.