Hard hitting campaign exposes the damaging effects of sugary drinks

18 February 2020 

You wouldn’t eat 16 teaspoons of sugar, so why drink it? That’s the thought-provoking question asked in a new campaign delivering a sinister insight into how your family could look in the future – from your sister’s rotting teeth to your father’s unhealthy weight and your mother’s type 2 diabetes.

The campaign is delivered by the Rethink Sugary Drink initiative, comprising of 19 like-minded health and community organisations concerned about the excessive consumption of sugary drinks in Australia.

The advertisement, which will run across digital channels, begins with a family watching TV, focusing on a young girl about to take a sip from a sugary drink can. She tips the can upside down to reveal a steady stream of sugar spilling out.

The scene quickly turns sinister, with threatening music as the girl watches her whole family hungrily devouring spoonfuls of pure sugar. The girl’s younger sister smiles at her, exposing a mouth full of rotten teeth.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, hopes the ad’s disturbing portrayal of sugary drinks will challenge young people’s perceptions of sugary drinks.

“Sugary drinks are addictive and Aussie teens are hooked on them, with one in six downing at least 5.2 kilograms of sugar each year from sugary drinks alone.1 Many would find the idea of eating 16 teaspoons of sugar sickening, but this is exactly how much sugar is consumed from just one 600ml bottle of soft drink,” he said.

“Teenagers may be shocked to know that the high sugar content in these drinks can lead to tooth decay as well as weight gain and obesity, increasing the risk of heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

Mr Sinclair said government leadership to combat the relentless marketing of sugary drinks to young people is crucial.

“When a quarter of young people in Australia are above a healthy weight, and nearly 50% of Australian children have tooth decay, something has to change. Big beverage brands are at it again this summer promoting these unhealthy drinks to young people”.

“We need more ads like this to cut through the noise and show the real damage these drinks are doing to young people’s health.”

Mr Sinclair also called on governments to introduce tougher restrictions around the sale and marketing of sugary drinks to young people to tackle high consumption among Aussie teens.

We need to restrict the availability of sugary drinks in sports facilities, schools and other places where young people spend their time. Organisations like Museums Victoria and Melbourne Sports Centres have already overhauled their cafeterias to provide healthy options and we hope to see other venues across Australia putting the health and wellbeing of Australia’s youth first.”

The campaign will run for three weeks and will be seen across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and shared widely on social media by health and community organisations.

A dedicated campaign website www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au/sixteen-teaspoons will provide information about how to make further small lifestyle changes to improve health.

1. Cancer Council Australia’s National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity survey https://www.cancer.org.au/news/media-releases/1-in-6-teens-consume-over-5kg-of-sugar-per-year-from-sugary-drinks.html

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 www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.