You can run but you can't hide

29 November 2019 

A thought-provoking video showing how much exercise you would need to do to burn off a sugary drink habit has been voted the most effective anti-sugary drink campaign in the annual Rethink Sugary Drink Critics’ Choice initiative.

Now in its third year, the Critics’ Choice program invited primary and secondary students across Australia to critique nine different public health TV commercials and asked them to vote for the most effective anti-sugary drink campaign.

The winning campaign, developed by the leading health groups behind Rethink Sugary Drink, follows the story of a man battling through a long run to burn off his sugary drink addition. Through his struggle students learn of the high volumes of sugar packed into sugary drinks and how regular consumption is bad for our health.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink partner, hopes these campaigns will end Australians’ love affair with sugary drinks.

“At a time when young Australians are bombarded with a huge amount of sugary drink marketing it’s great to see primary and secondary schools incorporating Critics’ Choice as part of the curriculum.  By voting and discussing the important messages delivered in these anti-sugary drink campaigns, students are able to see for themselves what big beverage brands neglect to share – the real damage regularly consuming sugary drinks can have on our health.” Mr Sinclair said.

“Many young Australians don’t realise that regularly downing sugary drinks is not only bad for our teeth, it can lead to weight gain and obesity, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and  13 types of cancer.”

“It’s crucial we also continue this conversation outside of the classroom and work to encourage young Australians to develop healthy habits and choose water instead.”

While such support and engagement is a promising start, Mr Sinclair said government leadership and investment in public education campaigns is crucial.

“With one in six teenagers consuming at least 5.2 kilos of sugar each year from sugary drinks alone, we urgently need all levels of government to invest in campaigns that highlight the impact of these drinks to make a real difference in the health of future generations.”

The Critics’ Choice program included teacher resources and lesson plans, encouraging teachers to complete activities from the Teacher Resource and initiate classroom discussion around the advertisements. When students voted, their school automatically went into the draw to win a sporting equipment voucher valued at $500.

The three schools to win a $500 sporting equipment voucher included:

 Mildura Senior College

 Mildura, Victoria

 MacKillop Catholic Regional College

 Wyndham, Victoria

 John Paul College

 City of Frankston, Victoria


In addition to government leadership and investment in public education campaigns the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:

  • A 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks
  • Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children's exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children's sports, events and activities
  • 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