With cigarettes and tobacco facing the likelihood of enforced plain packaging, pundits have turned their gaze to soft drinks, specifically targeting packaging aimed at getting children and young people to purchase soft drinks. 

They see plain packaging and warning labels as initiatives that could help curb obesity. University of Auckland researchers have completed a study indicating plain packaging could have a negative impact of children’s preferences for soft drinks.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand, research head Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, from the university’s National Institute for Health Innovation, said, “Plain packaging and warning labels could be effective ways to reduce young people’s intake of sugary drinks and prevent childhood obesity.”

Researchers found that a sugary drink tax had a weak effect on participants’ preferences. However, plain packaging had the biggest negative impact on young people’s product preferences and the he placement of a warning label on the sugary drinks also had a significant negative impact. The researchers found that warning labels had a greater effect when placed on beverages with plain packaging, compared with branded products.

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