NFPs urge to ‘Rethink Sugary Drink’
2 October 2013 at 9:59 am
Leading Australian health Not for Profits will hold a gathering of experts and community organisations in Melbourne to discuss Australia’s increasing sugary drink consumption.
The ‘Rethink Sugary Drink’ forum will be co-hosted by Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Australia, Heart Foundation (Victoria), Nutrition Australia, the Australian Dental Association and the Obesity Policy Coalition and aims to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages.
The forum comes amid a recent move by soft drink companies to publicly position themselves as part of the obesity solution.
Coca Cola was criticised by health experts this year for a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign justifying reduced portion sizes and emphasising consumer choice where healthy dietary practices were concerned.
Craig Sinclair, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Public Health Committee, said marketing by drink manufacturers had boosted the prevalence of sweetened drinks, a known health risk, in the everyday lives of Australians.
“We have reached a point where sugary drinks are considered an everyday staple as opposed to an occasional treat. Promotion by beverage companies through new media and traditional channels is relentless and it’s easier to find a bottle of soft drink than a water tap,” Sinclair said.
The 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that 47 per cent of children (2 to 16 years of age) consumed sugar sweetened beverages (including energy drinks) every day.
The host organisations have also released a series of policy recommendations to reduce consumption which include restrictions on marketing sugary drinks to children and reducing availability in children’s settings such as schools and sports centres, an investigation into tax options as well as reducing availability in workplaces, government institutions and healthcare settings.
“Momentum seems to be building for change within organisations, and communities are seeking support to create healthier environments. It’s time for government, community-based organisations and workplaces to start looking at policies to facilitate change,” Sinclair said.
The high consumption of sugary drinks is widely recognised as an emerging issue by some of Australia’s leading health groups due to its link to overweight and obesity and tooth decay.
According to research by the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University, children who consume more than one serving (250mL) of sugary drink per day are 26 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese.
Read an analysis of Coca Cola’s CSR campaign here.