Aren’t our school kids sweet enough?

The ubiquitous marketing of sugary drinks to young people [1], together with data revealing males aged 12-24 are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks, highlights a need to educate primary and secondary students about the damage regular sugary drink consumption does to health.

Rethink Sugary Drink, a national initiative supported by 19 health organisations has launched its annual Critics’ Choice Competition. Now in its third year, the competition, designed to be embedded into the school curriculum, showcases to students a series of international sugary drink advertisements, the aim to encourage young Australians to reduce their sugary drink consumption and make water the drink of choice.

After viewing a selection of short videos in the classroom, Australian students from years 5 to 10 are then invited to cast their vote on the most effective campaign and have their chance to win brand new sporting equipment for their school.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, said Critics’ Choice provides the perfect opportunity for Australian kids to learn the long term health effects of regular sugary drink consumption.

“By entering Critics’ Choice we want students to realise they could be drinking their way towards unhealthy weight gain, obesity and the accumulation of toxic fat,” Mr Sinclair said

The importance of such a program is vital, with figures revealing sugary drinks contribute the most added sugar to Australians’ diets [2]. Recent data also show 27% of Australian kids feel uncomfortable about the appearance of their teeth.

“No young person should look back on their childhood and remember the impact that came as a result of drinking too many sugary drinks. They’re really not worth losing your teeth over,” Mr Sinclair said.

Critics’ Choice will run throughout Term 3. Teachers are encouraged to complete activities from the Teacher Resource and initiate classroom discussion around the advertisements. When students vote, their school automatically goes into the draw to win a sports voucher valued at $500. The winning advertisement by popular vote will be announced later in the year.

To find out more and enter head to:

[1] AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Oral health and dental care in Australia, 2014-15 and 2016-17

[2] Louie, J., Rangan, A., Patterns of added sugars intake by eating occasion among a nationally representative sample of Australians, Springer Journal, 2016: Heidelberg. 


About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, Obesity Policy Coalition, Parents’ Voice, The Public Health Association Australia,  The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit for more information.