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To examine the ways in which sugar-containing beverages are being portrayed as ‘better-for-you’ (BFY) via features on product labels.
Cross-sectional audit of beverage labels.
Adelaide, Australia. Data on beverage labels were collected from seventeen grocery stores during September to November 2016.
The content of 945 sugar-containing beverages labels were analysed for explicit and implicit features positioning them as healthy or BFY.
The mean sugar content of beverages was high at 8·3 g/100 ml and most sugar-containing beverages (87·7 %) displayed features that position them as BFY. This was most commonly achieved by indicating the beverages are natural (76·8 %), or contain reduced or natural energy/sugar content (48·4 %), or through suggesting that they contribute to meeting bodily needs for nutrition (28·9 %) or health (15·1 %). Features positioning beverages as BFY were more common among certain categories of beverages, namely coconut waters, iced teas, sports drinks and juices.
A large proportion of sugar-containing beverages use features on labels that position them as healthy or BFY despite containing high amounts of sugar.
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