How the “Are We Drinking Ourselves Sick?” Communication Campaign Built Support for Policy Action on Sugary Drinks in Jamaica

Abstract: Background: This study assesses the effectiveness of a campaign “Are We Drinking Ourselves Sick?” that ran nationally in Jamaica in four phases from 2017 to 2019 to increase knowledge about the harms of sugary drinks, shift attitudes, and build support for policy actions to address sugary drink consumption, including a tax and a ban in schools. Methods: Campaign impact was measured in representative cross-sectional household surveys of adults ages 18 to 55. A baseline survey was conducted before the launch of the campaign (n = 1430). Evaluation surveys were conducted mid-campaign (n = 1571) and post-campaign (n = 1500). Campaign impact was assessed by comparing changes across survey periods on key knowledge, attitudinal and policy support outcome indicators. The independent association between campaign awareness and outcomes was analyzed using logistic regression analyses. Results: The campaign was recalled by more than 80% of respondents and was well-received with 90% or more respondents describing it as believable and relevant. There was a decline in knowledge on the harms of sugary drinks from the baseline to post-campaign period, notably on risks of diabetes (adjusted odds ratio or AOR = 0.62, p < 0.001), overweight and obesity (AOR = 0.58, p < 0.001), and heart disease (AOR = 0.79, p < 0.003). However, post-campaign awareness was independently associated in logistic regression analysis with improved knowledge of the harms of sugary drinks, including risks of diabetes (AOR = 1.45, p = 0.019), overweight or obesity (AOR = 1.65, p = 0.001), and heart disease (AOR = 1.44, p = 0.011). Support for government action remained high across survey waves (≥90%), and campaign awareness was independently associated with increased policy support for sugary drinks taxes (Mid-campaign: AOR = 1.43, p = 0.019; post-campaign: AOR = 1.46, p = 0.01) and restrictions on sugary drinks in schools (AOR = 1.55, p = 0.01). Conclusion: This study demonstrates the role that media campaigns can play in maintaining knowledge and concern about the health harms of sugary drinks and increasing support for policy passage.