Whittlesea leads the way in tackling sugary drinks, improving health

26 June 2017 

The Whittlesea region 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 City of Whittlesea was one of four Victorian councils selected to empower other councils across the state to take similar action at a Rethink Sugary Drink forum last week.

With 55 per cent of adults in Whittlesea currently overweight or obese[i], City of Whittlesea's Community Services Director Russell Hopkins said creating healthy environments was a priority.

"Whittlesea has one of the highest rates of sugary drink consumption in the north metropolitan region, with 14% of adults consuming at least one sugary drink each day," Mr Hopkins said.

"By reducing the display of sugary drinks and encouraging the promotion of water in spaces like our school canteens, sports and recreation centres and food courts, we are supporting people in our community, particularly parents with young children, to make healthier drink choices." 

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 the City of Whittlesea.

"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 that councils like the City of Whittlesea 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 City of Melbourne Council and the Corangamite Shire Council 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 rethinksugarydrink.org.au/

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, 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 www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au 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 http://www.livelighter.com.au/

 Victorian Population Health Survey 2014 https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/population-health-systems/health-status-of-victorians/survey-data-and-reports/victorian-population-health-survey