City of Melbourne leisure facilities lead the way in tackling sugary drinks, improving health

12 July 2017 

The City of Melbourne has been recognised as a leading Victorian council for reducing the availability of sugary drinks in a bid to improve the health of local residents.

The council was one of four from across Victoria selected to empower other councils across the state to take similar action at a Rethink Sugary Drink forum recently.

With overweight and obesity a growing problem City of Melbourne Councillor Tessa Sullivan, Chair of the People City portfolio, said creating healthy environments was a priority.

"We are always looking for ways to support our community to lead healthier lives and the work we are doing around sugary drinks is just the first step. Obesity is a serious problem across Melbourne and Victoria, and sugary drinks are a contributor to this, with around one in nine Victorian adults drinking sugary drinks every day[i]," Councillor Sullivan said.

Kiosks and cafes at the City of Melbourne's recreation and leisure facilities run the Green Light Eat Right Program, where food and drinks classified as red, under the Healthy Choices food and drink guidelines, have been removed. In addition, all sugar free soft drinks have been removed, even though they are classified as amber. Water has been prioritised and has prominence in all fridges.      

Removing sugary drinks from Melbourne City Baths, North Melbourne Recreation Centre, Carlton Baths, Kensington Community Recreation Centre and Riverslide Skate Park, has instantly reduced the sale of red food and drinks, primarily soft drinks.

"At the same time, we have been able to increase the sale of water and milk drinks and there has been minimal impact on sales revenue," Councillor Sullivan said.

Held at Cancer Council Victoria and presented by LiveLighter and YMCA Victoria, Rethink Sugary Drink's Sugar Hit forum was a chance for council staff to learn how to reduce the impact of sugary drinks in their communities.

LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietitian Alison McAleese praised the forward-thinking policies being implemented by councils such as City of Melbourne.

"Sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity, which is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and some cancers," Ms McAleese said.

"Local councils recognise that they have a role to play in helping minimise the health impacts associated with sugary drinks among their residents, but some councils aren't quite sure where to start.

"The Sugar Hit forum was an opportunity for councils to see the progress councils like Corangamite are making and gain the knowledge and resources they need to incorporate similar healthy policies into their municipal health and wellbeing plans."

Representatives from the City of Greater Geelong, the Corangamite Shire Council and the City of Whittlesea also spoke at the forum, sharing the work they are doing to reduce the impact of sugary drinks on their communities.

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

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, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Public Health Association of Australia, 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 for more information.

About LiveLighter:  Delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria and Heart Foundation, LiveLighter is a public health education campaign which encourages Victorians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active. For more healthy tips, recipes and advice visit

[i] Victorian Population Health Survey 2014