Leading health groups welcome support for sports centres to go sugary drink free

28 September 2017

Leading health groups welcome support for sports centres to go sugary drink free  

The 18 leading health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink have welcomed a new initiative encouraging Victorian sports and leisure centres to reduce the availability and promotion of sugary drinks.

VicHealth has announced a new Water in Sport Initiative, which will provide $500,000 for up to nine local councils to promote healthy drink options and reduce the availability and promotion of sugary drinks in kiosks and cafes at Victorian leisure centres and sports venues.

Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, Craig Sinclair, said it’s fantastic to see VicHealth supporting councils eager to reduce the impact of sugary drinks in their local communities.

“Sugary drinks, like sports drinks, soft drinks and energy drinks, are a contributor to tooth decay, weight gain, obesity, and serious long-term health problems, but they’re widely available and heavily promoted, especially to our young people,” Mr Sinclair said.

“We want to see more organisations, especially sports and leisure centres which promote good health and active lifestyles, playing a role in reducing the availability and marketing of these sugar-laden, nutrient poor drinks.

“The VicHealth grants announced today are a fantastic option to help health-conscious councils who are committed to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their local residents.”

Many sports and recreation centres are already removing sugary drinks from their cafes and kiosks.  Among them is YMCA Victoria, which has been phasing out soft drinks from its 39 leisure centres since 2015.

YMCA Victoria’s Advocacy Manager, Ari Kurzeme, said the results speak for themselves.

“At the YMCA we recognise that sugary drinks have no place in sport. We committed to removing all sugar-sweetened beverages from YMCA-managed aquatic and recreation centres by the end of 2017. Initially we phased out soft drinks and provided a wider variety of healthier drinks. We have seen that customers are willing to make the switch to healthier options, so there has been no decrease in overall dollar sales,” Ms Kurzeme said.

“We have recently removed sports drinks from sale. Before we made these changes we were putting 28 tonnes of sugar into the Victorian community each year through the sales of ‘red’ sugar-sweetened drinks”,

“Some young Australians are consuming as much as 1.5 litres of soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks a day. And these young people commonly frequent our sports and leisure centres.

“If more sports and leisure centres can reduce sugary drink sales, we can make an impact on the amount of sugar being consumed by Victorians and help improve their overall health.”

If you are an individual or organisation looking to take action on sugary drinks, visit the Rethink Sugary Drink website for free posters, factsheets and other useful resources and tips www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au 

For councils looking to reduce sugary drink availability and promotion, Rethink Sugary Drink has videos and resources with practical tips.

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

·         A 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.

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima, 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, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, 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. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

Media contacts:

Shannon Crane – for interview requests for Craig Sinclair, Cancer Council Australia

Media and Communications Advisor, Cancer Council Victoria
M: 0432157270 E: shannon.crane@cancervic.org.au


Shannon McKeogh – for interview requests for Ari Kurzeme, YMCA Victoria

Media Specialists, YMCA Victoria
M: 0412 612 039 E: shannon.mckeogh@ymca.org.au