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Survey finds Aussie teens still drinking too much sugar

Jackie Sinnerton, September 24, 2019 7:00PM The Courier-Mail

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One in six Australian teens is consuming at least 5.2kg of sugar each year from sugary drinks such as slurpees, slushies, fizzy drinks and sports drinks, according to a new national survey. Erin Pettet was shocked when she found out how much sugar is in popular drinks. Picture: Alex Coppel media_cameraOne in six Australian teens is consuming at least 5.2kg of sugar each year from sugary drinks such as slurpees, slushies, fizzy drinks and sports drinks, according to a new national survey. Erin Pettet was shocked when she found out how much sugar is in popular drinks. Picture: Alex Coppel

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One in six Australian teenagers gulps down at least 5.2kg of sugar each year from sugary drinks.

The National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity survey by Cancer Council Australia looked at the habits of more than 9000 students across the country and found that boys were the biggest consumers of sugary drinks with 22 per cent having a litre or more a week. Eleven per cent of girls consumed a litre or more a week.

Teenagers and Sugar media_cameraLola Bond, 17, pictured with 5kg of sugar. Picture: Damian Shaw

“Sugary drinks contribute the most added sugar to Australians’ diets and the news that one in six teens consume more than 5kg of sugar each year through sugar-sweetened beverages alone is alarming,” Cancer Council Australia nutrition expert Clare Hughes said.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages*, such as soft drink, cordial and sports drinks, are energy dense but provide no nutritional value to our diet.

“When we consume more kilojoules* than our body needs this can lead to weight gain and obesity* later in life.

“Obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular* disease and 13 types of cancer.”

How much sugar are you drinking? Video: LiveLighter

While the survey showed that the proportion* of teenagers’ consuming four or more cups of sugary drinks a week has gone down from 30 per cent to 17 per cent since 2009, Ms Hughes said teens were still drinking them at unacceptably* high levels and more needed to be done to protect the health of young people.

“Western Australia had the steepest declines in sugary drink consumption and now just one in 10 students consume a litre or more of sugary drinks each week. This decline coincides* with the repeated airing of the LiveLighter Sugary Drinks campaign in this state so we are urging the Government to use these results to roll out the campaign nationally,” said Ms Hughes.

LiveLighter is a public health campaign by Cancer Council aimed at getting people to cut back on sugary drinks.

In addition to rolling out the LiveLighter campaign nationally, Cancer Council is urging the Federal government to introduce measures to reduce the impact of poor diet. These include improved regulation* for junk food marketing, the introduction of added sugar labelling and a 20 per cent health levy* on sugary drinks.

VIDEO: Drinking too much soft drink puts you at risk of becoming obese, which in turn increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Understanding diabetes

GLOSSARY

  • beverages: drinks
  • kilojoules: a unit of measuring energy
  • obesity: a disease of having too much body fat that increases the risk of health problems
  • cardiovascular: to do with heart and circulation
  • proportion: part or share of a whole
  • unacceptably: in a way that is not satisfactory or acceptable
  • coincides: happens at the same time
  • regulation: rules and laws
  • levy: fee, tax or fine

EXTRA READING

Study links soft drink to increased cancer risk

Brush more and eat less sugar for healthier teeth

Plan to check students’ height, weight to fight obesity

Damage soft drink can do to your body

QUICK QUIZ

  • How many teenagers were surveyed?
  • What can obesity lead to?
  • What two things happened in Western Australia at the same time to do with sugary drinks?
  • What is LiveLighter?
  • What things would Cancer Council like the government to do about sugary drinks?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Say no to sugar
Work with a classmate and create a slogan or jingle to urge kids (around your own age) to say no to sugary food and drinks. Add your jingle or slogan to an A4 piece of paper and create a poster outlining all the reasons why all this added sugar is so bad for you. Use some of the facts and evidence provided in the Kids News article.

Present your poster and jingle/slogan to the class and vote on the most effective poster to get the message across.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social

2. Extension
Write a letter to your local federal member of parliament outlining ways you think the government could help everyday Australians reduce their sugar intake.

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

VCOP ACTIVITY
Syl-la-ble Sleuth
A good way to find a syllable is to clap as you speak.

Search through the text. Make a list of all the adjectives you can find. Classify them into the number of syllables each word has.

For example: 2 syllables, 3 syllables, 4 syllables, 5 or more syllables.

Longer doesn’t mean better!

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you or anyone in your family need to cut back on sugary drinks?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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