Museums Victoria makes sugary drinks history

The 19 leading health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink have applauded Museum Victoria’s announcement to phase out sugary drinks from its venues by the end of the year.

The plan, supported by the Victorian Government and led in partnership with Museums Victoria and VicHealth, follows the announcement of a Childhood Obesity Taskforce, to explore ways to reduce childhood obesity.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, said its important children and families are surrounded by supportive, healthy environments if we want to tackle the considerable health impacts linked to regularly drinking sugary drinks.

“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, yet despite these risks these drinks are still readily available in venues frequented by families and young people,” Mr Sinclair said.

Chief Executive Officer of Nutrition Australia Victorian Division Lucinda Hancock said water and milk are the best drink options for children, and praised Museums Victoria’s proactive step in giving young children a healthier start to life.

“Sugary drinks offer no nutritional benefits. We know the average child gets 40% of their daily energy intake from junk food and sugary drinks, so it’s great to see venues frequented by families providing healthier options.” Ms Hancock said.

At a time when 11 million Australians are overweight or obese and 2 in 5 children experience tooth decay by 12-14 years, Mr Sinclair is urging family-friendly destinations to follow in Museum Victoria’s footsteps.

“We know 255,000 kindergarten, primary and secondary students visit Victorian museum venues every year. It’s great news so many children and families can now visit spaces and be provided with healthier drinking options. We hope this sets an example for other venues across Australia to put the health and wellbeing of Australian kids first.” Mr Sinclair said.

The strategy see the removal of sugary drinks from café spaces and installation of new water fountains across Museums Victoria’s flagship venues - Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum.

Museums Victorian will complement the plan with an educational instalment to highlight the negative impacts associated with regularly consuming sugary drinks.

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

  • A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption.
  • 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.