Leading health groups call for genuine reformulation, not a sales pitch

25 June 2018
The 18 leading health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink have noted with interest the pledge by Australia’s non-alcoholic drinks companies to cut sugar across the industry by one-fifth, but would prefer to see more genuine reformulation efforts.
According to Craig Sinclair, a Rethink Sugary Drink spokesperson, the pledge is an attempt to avoid real change, and does not represent a meaningful change in strategy for drinks companies.
“The pledge will be measured by aggregated sales volume. This means no real reformulation will be required- a company could reduce its use of sugar simply by producing and selling more low-kilojoule soft drinks or bottled water. We would like to see some of those popular and very high sugar drinks being genuinely reformulated. For example, a 600 ml of Coca-Cola contains 16 teaspoons of sugar, even a 20% sugar decrease would still mean more than 12 teaspoons of sugar – which is still over the daily World Health Organisation recommendation.
“This is clearly a pre-emptive move by the industry to delay further discussion about a health levy on sugary drinks.”
The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance is calling on the Federal Government to implement a 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive healthy weight strategy.
“We know that a 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks will work. Over 25 years, a 20 per cent price increase for soft drinks and sweetened mineral waters alone could save 1,600 Australian lives. It would also reduce obesity and prevent 4,400 heart attacks and 1,100 strokes. Overall, the savings to the health-care system would add up to $609 million,” Mr Sinclair said.
The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:
  • The Australian Federal Government to add a health levy on sugary drinks to increase the price by 20 per cent.
  • A social marketing campaign, supported by Australian governments, to highlight the health impacts of sugary drinks consumption and encourage people to reduce their levels of consumption;
  • Comprehensive restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugary drinks, including through schools and children’s sports, events and activities;
  • Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugary drinks (combined with an increase in the availability of free water) in all schools, government institutions, children’s sports and events and places frequented by children, i.e. activity centres.
  • Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugary drinks in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings and other public places.
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, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, 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. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.