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New social media campaign ramps up the fight against sugary drinks

The AMA's #SicklySweet campaign turns the tables on the soft drink industry marketing techniques and asks Australians to drink water instead.

The AMA launched a social media campaign this week aimed at raising public awareness of the long-term health impacts of sugary soft drinks.

The #SicklySweet campaign is creative, fun, and highly visual, and turns the tables on the sophisticated soft drink advertisements directed at young people each summer.

Launching the campaign on Wednesday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said it was important not to overlook other major health issues even while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Amidst all the fear and uncertainty as we as we start another year of this pandemic, it’s important to remember there is also a lot we can do to take charge of our own health in the longer term.”

AMA members can take part in the campaign by sharing it online through their own social media accounts or by displaying campaign posters in their clinics or workplaces.  Materials and more information can be found at www.sicklysweet.com.au

The AMA President and Vice President were both prominent in the media for the campaign launch, which was covered across TV, newspapers and radio. The Guardian quoted Dr Khorshid’s warning: “Sugary drinks are a ticking timebomb for the nation’s health and we urge Australians to choose water whenever they can.”

Dr Chris Moy spoke about the campaign with comedian Sammy J on ABC Melbourne Breakfast radio program, detailing problems he regularly sees as patients suffer the health consequences of drinking bottles of soft drink every day. Dr Moy expressed his confoundment that water is often more expensive to buy than sugary drinks.

In addition to raising public awareness on the dangers lurking in sugary drinks, #SicklySweet also aims to build support for the AMA’s call for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The campaign builds on the AMA’s research report, A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages: modelled impacts on sugar consumption and government revenue, launched in June 2021 by Dr Khorshid at the National Press Club.

The report outlines the AMA’s detailed proposal for a volumetric tax on sugary drinks of around $0.40/100g sugar. It also outlines the evidenced health impacts of excess sugar consumption, and the pressures these place on the Australian health system.

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