A short (and sweet) explainer on the problem.

What’s the problem with soft drinks?

Sugar-sweetened beverages – or sugary drinks – contain way too much sugar and Australians are drinking too much of them.

There are 8-12 teaspoons (33-50 grams) of sugar in the average 375 ml can of soft drink. This is more than the daily recommended amount of sugar in just one drink with almost no nutritional benefit.

Frequent consumption of sugary drinks is associated with a range of health problems, such as poor dental health, as well as obesity – a major risk factor for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

It’s an issue that impacts our quality of life, our health and wellbeing, and puts a huge strain on our health system.

So, what’s the scale of the problem?

Australians consume more than 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks every year. That’s enough to fill 960 Olympic sized swimming pools.

And this is fuelling the nation’s growing obesity crisis, as well as a range of other health problems and chronic diseases.

Data suggests that 31 per cent of Australian adults and 8 per cent of children are obese. We have the sixth highest proportion of overweight or obese people (aged 15+) among 22 of our neighbours in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But people know about this issue, so it will soon improve?

Not without action, no.

Overweight and obesity is the second biggest modifiable risk factor contributing to the burden of disease in Australia, after tobacco.

There is some evidence to suggest that overweight and obesity is even set to overtake tobacco as the major cause of preventable death in Australia.

Rates of obesity in Australia have been increasing for at least 25 years, and the prevalence of obesity in Australia is expected to continue to increase. Sadly, we are likely to exceed past projections of a third of the adult population will be obese by 2025.

Why is it so hard to stop this?

It’s tough. We live in an environment that has a high availability, affordability and promotion of unhealthy food and drink.

This is confounded by a poor understanding of what is in food and drink products and what constitutes a healthy diet.