Spillover effects of anti-sugar-sweetened beverage messages: From consumption decisions to policy preferences

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Background: Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with many negative health outcomes. Efforts to curb consumption generally take one of two approaches: (a) Individual change based on the communication of personal risk information or (b) policies that limit or disincentivize the behavior, such as restricting access or implementing taxes. Methods and results: Using samples of 2347 persons and 139 pro- and anti-SSB messages, this study tested whether individual-level persuasion attempts would spill over to voting intentions and whether that spillover would amplify or attenuate policy preferences. The influence of anti-SSB messages was seen in (a) direct, positive effects on intention to vote for restrictive policies and in (b) indirect, positive effects where change in intended consumption mediated message impact on change in voting intentions. Anti-SSB messages were generally more powerful than pro-SSB advertising at producing direct and indirect change. Yet, there was evidence of boomerang effects among small numbers of both SSB drinkers and nondrinkers. Conclusions: Anti-SSB messages that target individual consumption bring about intentions to reduce consumption and increased receptivity to restrictive SSB policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115693
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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