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New ads urge teens to rethink sugary drinks

Brigid O’Connell, February 8, 2021 6:45PM Herald Sun

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Kieran, James and Nathan pouring 5kg of sugar into a bowl. One in six teenage boys consume more than 5kg of sugar a year through drinks. Picture: Josie Hayden media_cameraKieran, James and Nathan pouring 5kg of sugar into a bowl. One in six teenage boys consume more than 5kg of sugar a year through drinks. Picture: Josie Hayden


Reading level: red

Teenagers and young men are the targets of a new ad campaign designed to shock them about the realities of sugary drinks, and expose how hooked they can be.

The national Full of Crap campaign launched on Monday on social media by Rethink Sugary Drink, a coalition* of 19 public health organisations, aims to show teens and young men how sucked in they can be to the marketing of big drink companies, at a cost to their own health.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, one of the organisations in the coalition, said given one in six teenage boys consumed more than 5kg of sugar each year through drinks, the three-week campaign was important to help educate young people about the realities of advertising spin*.

“We know that for a long time the sugar-sweetened beverage companies have been promoting, with glorious effect, the attributes* of downing soft drinks. Many of which contain far more sugar than what out body has the capacity* to cope with,” Mr Sinclair said.

“We found that many people, particularly young people, are really unaware of the sheer* volume of sugar found in these products.

“A standard 600ml bottle of soft drink — the size that gets the most shelf space — has around 16 teaspoons of sugar.

“Sugar is such a big contributor to weight gain, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The more immediate impact for young people is tooth decay.”

Obesity Policy Coalition Executive Manager Jane Martin said the federal government needed to enact* stricter labelling standards that included the sugar content in teaspoons on the front of bottles, to help “cut through the marketing spin rolled out by these companies”.

“We know men are twice as likely as women to consume sugary drinks, so targeted campaigns like this are crucial if we want to stop Australia’s sugary drink problem,” Ms Martin said.

Mum of two teenage boys, Dr Melinda Norris said sugary drinks remained a temptation even for healthy kids like hers, who played lots of sport.

“Even though they know it’s not good for them, my biggest challenge is the sports drinks they see when they do big basketball tournaments,” Dr Norris said.

“They see that as a recovery drink. It’s very enticing because of the way it’s marketed. They ask for it, they say they need electrolytes*. But they don’t appreciate the amount of sugar in it.”


  • coalition: group working together
  • spin: version of reality designed to convince someone of something
  • attributes: features (of a thing or person)
  • capacity: how much can fit, or how much someone is able to do or understand
  • sheer: nothing other than
  • enact: put into practice or make into law
  • electrolytes: minerals thought to help people recover after hard exercise and stay hydrated


Teens guzzling too much soft drink

Study links soft drink to increased cancer risk

Energy drinks robbing teens of sleep

Junk food tells lies to your brain


  1. Who are the ads aimed at?
  2. What are the ads about?
  3. How many teaspoons of sugar is in a standard 600ml soft drink?
  4. Name three possible health problems from having too much sugar.
  5. Which sport do Dr Norris’ boys play?


1. Health Partners
A coalition is when a group of parties agree to temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. In the case of the parties mentioned in the Kids News article, there are 19 groups working together to achieve the goal of getting kids and adults to rethink sugary drinks for the sake of their health.

Work with a partner and see if you can name and guess 10 of these groups that would be interested in reducing sugary drinks for good health. Some are mentioned in the article. Your teacher will name all 19 groups at the end.

(Teachers: you can find coalition partners at

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
What do you think may help kids reduce their intake of sugary drinks? Is it a ban, more awareness of health implications, a picture of sugar on labels or some ads on TV showing you how bad they are?

Think of a type of healthy drink that could look cool and taste nice for kids to drink before or after sport that is good for them. How would you sell this to kids?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Critical and creative thinking

Aside from this, there is also this!

Brackets are a great literacy tool for adding aside comments, or comments that could be covered over and the sentence still makes sense. What’s inside the brackets is extra information.

They can be used for a variety of effects: to add more detail, to add humour, to connect with the reader etc.

My little brother, (the funniest kid I know) got himself into big trouble today.

Select 3 sentences from the article to add an aside comment to using brackets. Think about not only what you want to add to the sentence, but also what effect you are trying to create.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How often do you drink sugary drinks? How much? Do you think this is too much?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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