Nothing to smile about: new data finds at least 3 in 4 Aussie adults consume sugary drinks

20 March 2023

With new research finding 3 in 4 Australian adults consumed sugary drinks at least once in a given week, the  Rethink Sugary Drink alliance is calling for the community to protect their teeth and make the switch to water this World Oral Health Day. 

Shape of Australia data released by Cancer Council Victoria 1 found that three quarters of Australian adults consumed sugary drinks at least once in a week. One in five consumed sugary drinks on at least five days over the same period. 

Dr Janani Ravichandran, Oral Health Promoter at the Australian Dental Association, a Rethink Sugary Drink partner, said beverages like soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks can wreak havoc on our oral health. 

“Regularly sipping on these sugar-loaded drinks has been linked with both tooth decay and erosion. Exposure to the acid in these drinks can also dissolve the outer layer of our tooth enamel, leading to cavities and sensitivity.”

“Recent research has found 1 in 3 Australians aged 15 and over has at least one tooth with untreated dental decay, and an average of 11.2 teeth that are decayed, missing or filled. 2  If we could urge Aussies to cut out or cut back on the sugary drinks, we’d start to see much healthier, stronger smiles.”

Craig Sinclair, Director of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, another Rethink Sugary Drink partner, said government action is needed to reduce consumption of these harmful drinks and improve Australian’s oral and physical health. 

“We all want Aussies to enjoy healthy lives, free from chronic disease. But regular consumption of sugary drinks can contribute to both poor oral health and excess weight, which increases the risk of heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and 13 types of cancer.”

“We need the government to help raise the public’s awareness of sugary drinks’ health impacts and introduce policies that will encourage consumers to rethink their buying patterns and drink choices.

“The leading public health organisations engaged with Rethink Sugary Drink are calling for a 20% health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages – it's an effective and widely supported policy that we know can reduce consumption.”  

Mr Sinclair said that World Oral Health Day serves as the perfect opportunity for Australians to swap sugary drinks for a healthier option. 

“A regular 600mL bottle of soft drink can contain 16 teaspoons of sugar. Water is always the best choice of drink, and your teeth will thank you in the long run for making the switch.”

Today also marks the launch of Mob Smiles, a new oral health promotion campaign to enable people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to take steps to maintain a healthy mouth, including limiting sugary drinks. 

All Mob Smiles campaign resources have been developed by Indigenous health professionals with support from the Australian Dental Association and can be accessed at

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between 21 leading public health organisations across Australia, including Cancer Council Victoria and the Australian Dental Association, which are all committed to tackling the overconsumption of sugary drinks. 

Visit  for more information as well as facts, tips, and resources to help you or someone you know cut back on their sugar consumption.


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, Australian Medical Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Parents’ Voice, Public Health Association Australia, Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, Stroke Foundation, 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.

 1. The Shape of Australia survey was completed by over 2,000 adults throughout September 2022. The annual survey has been coordinated by Cancer Council Victoria since 2020, with significant contributions from Cancer Council Western Australia.

 2. AIHW, Oral health and dental care in Australia, (2022) <Oral health and dental care in Australia, Summary - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (>.