PEOPLE are urged to curb thirst for sugary drinks as health experts warn alarming new figures show our consumption is weighing in big on the nation’s obesity epidemic.
Almost one in seven Ballarat adults drink sugary drinks daily more with more than 60 per cent of Ballarat residents classed overweight or obese. In parts of regional Victoria, one in four adults is quenching their sweet tooth daily.
Ballarat MP and federal opposition health spokesperson Catherine King said the problem was getting worse and, while a complex issue, cultural change was needed.
“While sugar consumption isn’t the only issue, we know that it plays a significant role. That’s why we went to the last election with a policy to introduce a National Nutrition Framework, to work with food producers and retailers to expand the use of the health star rating system,” Ms King said.
“Picking up the packet to read it is one thing -- we need to help people understand it as simply and as quickly as possible so they can make healthy and informed choices when it comes to sugary drinks and other unhealthy options.”
Rethink Sugary Drink, an alliance between 13 major health and community bodies, says comparisons between sugary drink consumption with obesity levels must not be ignored. The campaign pushes for a sugar tax on drinks to help tackle consumption and fund obesity prevention initiatives.
YMCA has found strong support for community change in the Pyrenees.
Sugary and sweet drinks have been kept from sight across Pyrenees pools in Avoca, Beaufort and Landsborough this summer. This was part of a YMCA staged approach to eliminate sugary treats from its venues and programs.
YMCA Ballarat chief executive officer Kate Phillips said pool-side water consumption increased and community appetite had been, a little surprisingly, welcome to the change.
“We know changing habits isn’t something done easily. Changing habits takes time,” Ms Phillips said. “Change management and engendering community good spirit is about bringing people along for the journey.”
Ms Phillips said the YMCA was looking towards offering a greater variety of healthier, less sugary food options at Pyrenees pools next summer.
Rethink Sugary Drinks is calling on the Australian government to raise greater awareness of health implications of sugary drink, including tooth decay, heart and kidney disease and cancer.