Can This Method Help Teens Drink Less Soda?

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 5.11.38 PMIt's a story we've heard (and told) plenty of times before: Teens should drink less soda. But how can you get that message across without seeming redundant or getting tuned out? Researchers from Johns Hopkins University may have discovered a solution. When teens were told how much exercise they would need to do in order to burn off the calories in a sugary beverage, they were more likely to opt for a healthier option or smaller size.

By giving an actual amount of exercise that would be equivalent, it's much easier to comprehend than a number of calories. The research conducted from August 2012 to June 2013 backs up this idea. Sara N. Bleich, who led the study, explains:

People don't really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories... What our research found is that when you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking needed to burn them off, you can encourage behavior change.

This theory definitely makes sense! Instead of talking about arbitrary amounts of calories, concrete comparisons help teens realize what's actually in their soft drinks.

To better understand the side effects of soda, check out the "Soda Shock" story from the January 2014 issue of Choices! Click the image below to read the article as a PDF:

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