Evidence about the health problems associated with sugary drink consumption is well-established. However, little is known about which sugary drink health harms are most effective at changing consumers’ behavior. We aimed to identify which harms people were aware of and most discouraged them from wanting to buy sugary drinks. Participants were a national convenience sample of diverse parents (n=1,058), oversampled for Latino parents (48%). Participants rated a list of sugary drink-related health harms occurring in children (7 harms) and in adults (15 harms). Outcomes were awareness of each harm and how much each harm discouraged parents from wanting to purchase sugary drinks. Most participants were aware that sugary drinks contribute to tooth decay in children (75%) and weight gain in both children (73%) and adults (73%). Few participants were aware that sugary drinks contribute to adult infertility (16%), arthritis (18%), and gout (17%). All health harms were rated highly in terms of discouraging parents from wanting to buy sugary drinks (range: 3.59-4.11 on a 1-5 scale), with obesity, pre-diabetes, and tooth decay eliciting the highest discouragement ratings. Harm-induced discouragement was higher for participants who were aware of more health harms (B=0.06, p<0.0001), identified as male (B=0.17 compared to female, p=0.01), or had an annual household income of $50,000 or more (B=0.16 compared to less than $50,000, p=0.03). These findings suggest health messages focused on a variety of health harms could raise awareness and discourage sugary drink purchases.
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