Researchers from Flinders University’s Department of Psychology have discovered potential individual responses and’mechanisms’ to combat the rise in the consumption of soft drinks as part of an Australian Research Council Discovery project.
The findings of this study were published in the ‘Appetite Journal’.
One contributing factor is the fact that people respond differently to daily exposure to soft drink ‘cues,’ with soft drinks being available around the clock 24/7 from supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines, and petrol stations, according to the researchers.
According to findings from more than 120 undergraduate university students (81 women and 38 men between the ages of 17 and 25), self-regulatory (‘inhibitory control’) and ‘evaluation bias’ for soft drink cues (or ‘automatic positive judgment’) were both associated with increased soft drink consumption.
“Evaluative bias for soft drink cues may be an important factor in soft drink consumption because soft drinks are heavily marketed and these powerful marketing messages generally associate soft drinks with positive emotions such as ‘being cool’ or ‘having fun with friends’ or even ‘happiness,'” said Joshua McGreen, a PhD candidate at Flinders University and the study’s lead author. “Soft drinks are heavily marketed and these powerful marketing messages generally associate soft drinks with positive emotions such as ‘being cool’
“This study brings us one step closer to discovering new and easily accessible methods to assist habitual soft drink consumers and other consumers who want to more actively try to limit their intake,” he continued.
Despite the fact that taxing soft drinks is one strategy, he explained that it does not address the underlying mechanisms that drive soft drink consumption, nor does it empower individuals to regulate their own consumption behavior.
With 40-50 percent of adults in Australia consuming at least one soft drink per week, young adults in this age group are the primary consumers of soft drinks, which have become a major public health issue in recent years.
It was determined how much soft drink was consumed through the use of computerized cognitive tasks, and how much self-regulatory control and evaluative bias were demonstrated through the use of taste tests.
In 2022, the research at Flinders University will be expanded to investigate targeted interventions to reduce soft drink consumption, which could include the development of an easy-to-use mobile app or other methods.
Excessive soft drink consumption has been linked to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes risk, and even lower academic performance. As a result, awareness campaigns and medical interventions are being planned in both developing and developed economies.
As recommended by the World Health Organization, adults and children should limit their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. Additional health benefits would be obtained by reducing the amount of sugar consumed to less than 5% of total calories, or approximately 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day.