Kung-fu fighters expose hidden sugar to Australian students

13 August 2018

A Singaporean TV advertisement depicting Kung-fu fighters uncovering the not-so-sweet side of sugary drinks has been voted the most effective anti-sugary drink campaign in this year’s Rethink Sugary Drink Critics’ Choice program.

Almost 600 primary and secondary school students took part in this year’s Critics’ Choice initiative, in which they voted for the most effective sugary drink health campaign and learnt about the health effects of sugary drinks.

The fun, movie styled TVC ‘Kung-fu Fighter, Hidden Sugar’ was the clear winner, followed by an ad developed by the US Centre for Science in the Public Interest which plays on a classic Coca Cola advertisement.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria (a Rethink Sugary Drink partner) said the results highlight that memorable, relevant ads work well in conveying complex health messages to younger audiences.

“Sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar for the Australian population [1]. In fact, just over half (52%) of the added sugar Australians consume comes from beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks. Many don’t realise that regularly downing sugary drinks is bad for your teeth and can lead to weight gain and obesity, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and some cancers,” Mr Sinclair said.

“It’s crucial we reach this audience and encourage young Australians to develop healthy habits in order to avoid them becoming overweight or obese later in life.”

“With 27% of Australian children overweight or obese, we urgently need governments to invest in campaigns like these that highlight the impact of unhealthy diets to make a real difference in the health of future generations.”

Primary and secondary schools across the country were invited to participate in the program which included teacher resources and lesson plans. Each vote equated to an entry into a random prize draw. The three lucky schools to win a $500 sporting equipment voucher are:

  • Mildura Senior College : Mildura, Victoria
  • Scots PGC College : Warwick, Queensland
  • Bayside Christian College : Ianwarrin South, Victoria

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:

  • A 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks
  • A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
  • Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children's exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children's sports, events and activities
  • Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children's sports and places frequented by children
  • Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

[1] Linggang l et al (2016) Dietary intake and food sources of added sugar in the Australian population. British Journal of Nutrition 115, 868-877 

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, the 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.