The prevalence of adolescent and adult obesity is higher than it has ever been in the U.S, driving population risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Robust evidence indicates that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) increases the risk of developing obesity. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Medicine have called for broad action to reduce SSB consumption, little is known about how to effectively do so in the age group that consumes the greatest amount of SSBs? older adolescents and young adults. One promising and potentially scalable approach is the use of SSB health warning labels. Although the effect of warning labels on SSB consumption has not yet been studied, warning labels have successfully been used to curb smoking, and in recent online experiments, were found to reduce hypothetical selection of SSBs. This study proposes to use qualitative methods and a formative experiment to develop a legally viable and salient SSB warning label format for adolescents and young adults. Then, a quasi- experimental design will test the impact of a prominent front-of-dispenser SSB warning label on university students? beverage consumption, comparing outcomes in an intervention cafeteria to those in a control cafeteria. The college setting provides a feasible means of reaching close to half of all 18-to-24 year olds in the U.S. I am pursuing the NIDDK K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to fill critical training gaps in (1) the design, conduct, and analysis of intervention studies and (2) understanding of factors driving consumer decision-making. This award will build upon my advanced training in nutritional epidemiology and development of measures to assess dietary intake and food environments. My long-term career goal is to become an independent investigator who will reduce the prevalence of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases by identifying a spectrum of scalable and effective interventions that can ?nudge? consumers toward healthier dietary choices. The skills I seek to obtain will be critical in achieving this goal. My detailed training plan includes formal coursework at UC Berkeley and UCSF, mentored experience, meetings, seminars, and directed readings. The research component of this project will provide opportunities to integrate new knowledge into practical research experience. Together, the training and protected time provided by the K01 award, combined with the rich collaborative environment and strong institutional support at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, will facilitate my transition into an independent investigator who can successfully compete for R01 funding. It will also provide the means to help me become a leader in the development and testing of scalable food environment and policy interventions that will reduce population risk of diet-related chronic diseases.
The prevalence of adolescent and adult obesity is higher than it has ever been in the U.S., and strong evidence indicates that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are a major contributor to unhealthy weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Little is known about scalable approaches to reduce SSB consumption in older adolescents and adults, but a promising approach used in tobacco control that has been unstudied for SSB consumption is product warning labels. The proposed study will test the impact of SSB health warning labels on SSB consumption among adolescents and young adults in a cafeteria setting, which, if found to be effective, may be an approach scalable to policy and defined locations like colleges and workplaces.
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