New Aboriginal campaign shows cutting out sugary drinks improves health

7 March 2018

An inspiring new television campaign featuring Victorian Aboriginal community members sharing how cutting back on sugary drinks has helped their health and wellbeing will launch today.

The ‘Our Stories’ campaign features local Aboriginal health champions yarning about their personal journeys of cutting back on sugary drinks and creating healthier environments for Aboriginal communities.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc (VACCHO) and 17 other leading health bodies working on Rethink Sugary Drink are behind the campaign.

Michelle Crilly is a young Yorta Yorta woman who features in one of the three advertisements. She shares her experience in making the choice to switch from sugary drinks to water.

“I was driving home one day, probably about three years ago. I was 20, and I had some chest pain. And being so young I got really worried,” Ms Crilly said.

“I used to be addicted to Slurpees. I’d also drink about 4–5 cans of soft drink every day… [Now] I exercise every day and I don’t have as much anxiety and I don’t feel depressed anymore.”

In the advertisement, Michelle urges others in the Aboriginal community to follow her lead.

“Keep going with your healthy lifestyle changes. It doesn’t happen overnight but eventually it will become a part of your daily routine,” she said.

Around two thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 14–30 regularly drink sugary drinksi.

“Given the considerable burden of overweight and obesity-related chronic disease in the Aboriginal population, targeted campaigns are required to increase awareness and reduce consumption of sugary drinks among the Victorian Aboriginal community,” said Louise Lyons, Director of Public Health and Research at VACCHO.

“Some people might not realise but sugary drinks, like soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, are loaded with ridiculous amounts of sugar. All that extra sugar is no good for our bodies, so drinking too much can lead to tooth decay and weight gain, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and some cancers.”

Sugary drinks are a major contributor to Australia’s obesity problem, said Craig Sinclair, Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia – a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink.

“The ‘Our Stories’ campaign shows there is no need for any kind of sugary drinks in a healthy diet. We recommend Australians take a look and see just how much sugar is in these drinks – some have as many as 17 teaspoons of sugar – and choose water instead.”

The advertisements will be run for two months on regional WIN television in Victoria and will be shared widely on social media by health and community organisations.

How much sugar is in your drink?

 Drink  Serving size  Sugar per serve (g)  Sugar per serve (tsp)  Sugar per 100mL (g)  Sugar per 100mL (tsp)
 Soft drinks          
 Solo  600mL  69  17.3  11.5  2.9
 Coca Cola  600mL  64  16.0  10.6  2.7
 Sprite  600mL  52  13.0  8.6  2.2
 Fanta  375mL  41  10.3  10.9  2.7
 Bundaberg: Ginger Beer  375mL  40.5  10.1  10.8  2.7
 Coca Cola  375mL  40  10.0  10.6  2.7
 Energy drinks          
 Rockstar: Super Sours Energy Drink  500mL  67  16.8  13  3.3
 V Energy Drink  500mL  53  13.3  10.6  2.7
 Mother  500mL  51  12.8  10.1  2.5
 Red Bull  250mL  27  6.8  11  2.8
 Sports drinks          
 Gatorade: Fierce Grape flavour  600mL  36  9.0  5.5  1.4
 Gatorade: Tropical  600mL  36  9.0  6  1.5
 Powerade: Mountain Blast flavour  600mL  35  8.8  5.8  1.5
 Powerade: Lemon lime  600mL  35  8.8  5.8  1.5
 Other drinks          
 Lipton Ice Tea: Peach flavour  500mL  26.4  6.6  5.3  1.3
 Glacier Vitamin water: kiwi strawberry flavour  500mL  22  5.5  4.3  1.1


How can I reduce my sugary drink consumption? 

  • Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink using the table above – it might surprise you.
  • If you’re ordering a fast food meal, don’t go with the default regular/sugar soft drink, see what other options there are.
  • Carry a water bottle, so you don't have to buy a drink if you're thirsty.
  • If you’re thirsty, have some water first.
  • Be wary of any health or nutrition claims on the drinks you buy. Many producers are now trying to make their sugar sweetened beverages sound healthier than they actually are. Refer to the amount for sugar on the nutrition panel if in doubt and consider the size of the bottle as well
  • If you consume sugary alcoholic drinks, see if there are lower sugar options. Even alcohol alone is loaded with kilojoules so cutting back on the booze is also good.
  • Try to avoid going down the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and beware the specials at the petrol station.

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, 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 for more information.

i Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Consumption of Sweetened Beverages 2011-12,