New video challenges Victorian Aboriginal community members to ‘rethink’ their soft drink consumption

22 January 2015

An innovative video has today been launched to address the serious issue of sugary drink consumption within Victorian Aboriginal communities.

Rethink Sugary Drink and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc (VACCHO) have partnered to highlight the significant health problems associated with sugary drink consumption and to encourage Victorian Aboriginal community members to reduce their intake of sugary drinks.

Louise Lyons, VACCHO’s Acting CEO and a proud Jaadwa woman from the western district, shares Victorian Aboriginal communities’ concerns regarding the consumption of these drinks on a regular basis.

“Around two thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are overweight or obese1, with many Aboriginal people having to manage serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer. Others, including children, are also being treated for serious dental problems,” she says.

“This video delivers a relevant and culturally appropriate message to our communities – sugary drinks are not good for our health and wellbeing and to go for water instead.”

The online video stresses how much sugar is loaded into sugar sweetened beverages and the health risks associated with regular consumption.

Craig Sinclair, Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia said it’s really important to recognise the long-term health impacts of sugary drinks and start to make healthier choices.

“One regular 600ml bottle of soft drink contains around 16 teaspoons of sugar, so if you wouldn’t eat 16 teaspoons of sugar, why would you drink it? We ask this thought-provoking question in the video and give an eye-opening insight into how your family could look in the future – from your sister’s rotting teeth to your father’s obesity and your mother’s type 2 diabetes.”

Aunty Margaret Clarke of the Mutti Mutti clan knows how easy it is to drink a lot of sugary drinks without understanding the health effects.

“During summer I would drink three to four cans of soft drink a day,” she says.

“I never looked at the label or thought about how much sugar they contain.”

Six months ago, when Aunty Marg began working at VACCHO, she discovered what sugary drinks can do to your health and knew it was time to cut right back.

“I swapped to diet soft drink and now I only have maybe five cans of diet soft drink a month – not a day. I drink water instead. I have also started eating less sweet food like biscuits and cake and in six months I’ve lost about 5kg.

“It’s important for people to be aware of what they’re putting in their mouths and what it can do to their health, before the damage is done. We also need to think about our teeth and the damage too much sugar does to them.”

The video is being shared widely on social media by health and community organisations.

What is a sugary drink?

Sugary drinks, or sugar sweetened beverages, include all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar such as non-diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks and cordial.

How can I reduce my sugary drink consumption?

Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink :

  • 375mL can of Coca Cola contains 10 teaspoons
  • 600mL bottle of Gatorade (Fierce Grape flavour) contains 9 teaspoons
  • 500mL bottle of V Energy Drink contains more than 13 teaspoons
  • 500mL bottle of Lipton Ice Tea (Peach flavour) contains 8.5 teaspoons

If you're ordering a fast food meal, don't go with the default sugary soft drink; see what other options there are. For kids, see what else is on offer, such as low-fat milk, or ask for water.

  • Carry a water bottle so you don't have to buy a drink if you're thirsty.
  • 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. Look at the nutrition information panel to see how much sugar is in the drink and consider the size of the bottle as well.
  • If you consume sugary alcoholic drinks look for lower sugar options.
  • Avoid going down the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and resist the urge to buy specials at the checkout and the service station. These ‘specials’ are designed to tempt you to buy products you didn’t intend to buy!


1 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012-13