Many people innocently drink sugary drinks without realising that they are loaded with empty kilojoules that can be difficult to burn off and lead to weight gain.

Learn more about the health impacts of sugary drinks and how to cut back so you can LiveLighter.

What are sugary drinks?

Sugary drinks include all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar such as non-diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, flavoured waters, flavoured milks and cordial.

All sugary drinks are high in added sugars.

What is the effect of too many sugary drinks?

The sugar in sugary drinks is excess energy your body doesn’t need.

Too much sugar can lead to weight gain. When you gain weight, fat doesn’t just build up around your waist. Toxic fat also builds up around your vital organs, releasing dangerous levels of chemicals that increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer1,2,3.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that Australians limit foods and drinks containing added sugars to reduce our risk of weight gain and of tooth decay.4

What can I do to cut back on sugary drinks?

Cutting back on sugary drinks is an effective way of reducing the amount of kilojoules and sugar you consume.

Plain tap water is the best choice – it's cheap, quenches your thirst and has no kilojoules.

Follow these tips and reduce your consumption of sugary drinks:

  • Avoid going down the soft drink aisle at the supermarket and beware of the specials at the checkout and service stations.
  • If you're eating out, don't go with the default soft drink – see what other options there are, or just ask for water.
  • Carry a water bottle, so you don't have to buy a drink if you're thirsty.
  • Be wary of health or nutrition claims on drinks. Producers try to make their beverages sound healthier than they are, so check the amount of sugar on the nutrition panel and consider the size of the bottle. Be aware that 4g = 1 teaspoon.
  • Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink using the table below.
  • Use the LiveLighter Sugary Drinks Calculator to see how much exercise is required to burn off your sugary drink habit and how much money you could save if you gave up.

How much sugar is in your favourite drink?

Drink Sugar (g) per serve    Sugar (teaspoons) per serve
Soft drink 600mL 64g
Soft drink 375mL 40g 10
Sports drink 600mL 36g 9
Flavoured water 500mL   27g 6
Iced Tea 500mL 28g 7
Iced coffee 600mL 56g 14
Chocolate milk 600mL 52g 13
Energy drink 250mL 28g 7
Frozen drink 1100mL 100g 25

*One teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4 grams.

1 Kershaw, E.E. and J.S. Flier, Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2004. 89(6): p. 2548-2556.
2 Guh, D., et al., The incidence of co-morbidities related to obesity and overweight: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health,
2009. 9(1): p. 88.
3 Despres, J.-P. and I. Lemieux, Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome. Nature, 2006. 444(7121): p. 881-887.
4 The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013 NHMRC pp67-