The effect of printing health warnings on tobacco products is well known. A recent UK research now shows that it could be just as effective for alcohol and food products. Published in BMC Public Health, the research revealed that warning labels depicting various diseases associated with excessive consumption of alcohol and energy-dense snacks reduced their acceptability. The labels contained both text and image.
The findings were based on two online studies where participants were asked to rate image-and-text health warning labels on alcoholic drinks and energy-dense snacks. They had to select from 21 labels on the former and 18 labels on the latter. The labels consisted of a graphic image with an explanatory text. The alcohol labels depicted the seven diseases associated with excessive alcohol intake, while the food labels depicted six diseases associated with excess energy intake. These diseases included various cancers and heart diseases.
The outcomes that the researchers were looking for ranged from negative emotional arousal, desire for the labeled product, and acceptability of the label. They found that for both alcoholic products and food, labels depicting bowel cancer generated the highest levels of negative emotional arousal, the lowest desire for consumption and the least acceptability. Acceptability was generally lower for alcohol when compared to the snack food. The team also studied the comments on the labels, which showed negative reactions across the board.