Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

You Wouldn't Eat This Much Sugar

A standard, widely consumed 330ml can of fizzy drink contains on average 35g of sugar, which is equivalent to 7 teaspoons. The NHS recommends an intake of no more than 30g of added sugar a day – which would be exceeded by including a 330ml can of fizzy drink in the daily diet. Excess sugar in the diet has been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (Apovian, 2004), a study conducted by Ludwig and colleagues (2001) showed that, with the consumption of each extra sugar-sweetened fizzy drink per day, the likelihood of becoming obese increased by 1.6 times. Furthermore, findings from Schulze and colleagues (2004) showed that women who consumed more sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks were also significantly more likely to smoke, be less physically active, overall consume more calories and have lower intakes of protein and fibre than women who consume less of these beverages –in combination, the aforementioned factors increase the risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

In light of these findings, our project consisted of changing people’s opinion regarding the amount of sugar that fizzy drinks contain and the detrimental effects this has on the body! Many students drink too many fizzy drinks so as to use the sugar to accommodate their busy lifestyles. This is extremely topical at the moment with the introduction of a ‘fat tax’ and Jamie Oliver wanting to reduce sugar in schools. Furthermore, obesity is at its highest rate in the UK and many regard sugary drinks as a major factor in the increase in obesity.

Therefore, we decided to create a poster to describe the detrimental health effects that come with drinking fizzy drinks and the amount of sugar that is actually in numerous different drinks compared to water. We showed these posters to Warwick University students in the SU.

 We then asked students to fill in questionnaires to see if their opinions of sugary drinks had changed due to these posters and found that many would drink less fizzy drinks after being told this information!

 Nia Helyar, Ula Sever, Francesca Parker and Jade Reed


Apovian, C. M. (2004). Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 292, 978-979.
Ludwig, D. S., Peterson, K. E., & Gortmaker, S. L. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 357, 505-508.

Schulze, M. B., Manson, J. E., Ludwig, D. S., Colditz, G. A., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2004). Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 292, 927-934.

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