Sugary Drinks Facts
Aussies are bombarded with a huge amount of sugary drink marketing every day.
What these companies don’t advertise is the serious damage that regularly having sugary drinks does to your teeth. Too many sugary drinks can also contribute to weight gain, increasing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and 13 types of cancer.
Sugary drinks are the single biggest source of added sugar in Australians’ diets. We’re encouraging Aussies to think twice before having a sugary drink – they aren’t worth losing your teeth over.
What happens to your teeth when you have a sugary drink?
- Bacteria that are naturally present in your mouth break down the sugar in sugary drinks into acids.
- The acid attacks the teeth, dissolving the outer surface of tooth enamel.
- Each acid attack lasts for about 20 min. Every time you take a sip, the acid damage begins all over again.
- The regular loss of enamel can lead to cavities which exposes the inner layers of the tooth. This can ruin your smile and make teeth sensitive and painful.
How much sugar is in...?
Click the buttons below to reveal the amount of sugar in each drink.
The sneaky sugar in "healthy" drinks
While most of us might know that soft drinks are packed with sugar, what about some of the other drinks out there that market themselves as a better option?
Sports drinks are full of sugar. If you’re doing more than 90 minutes of vigorous exercise, or losing a lot of fluid through vomiting, diarrhoea or heavy sweating, a sports drink or electrolyte drink might be helpful. But for most people, water is the best choice of drink, even if we’ve been active.
Store-bought iced teas may pretend to be as healthy as a nice warm cup of tea, but we should really think of them as a “tea-flavoured” sugary drink. At around 30 grams of sugar per bottle, it's like adding 8 teaspoons of sugar to your morning cuppa. Bleugh!
Although diet soft drinks are low in sugar and kilojoules, research hasn't found them to be effective in managing weight, and regular consumption of these drinks has been linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diet drinks are also highly acidic which makes them bad for our teeth.
Many “fruit” drinks contain very little actual fruit juice but usually have loads of added sugar. These go in the same category as soft drinks.
Whole fruit is a great snack option. Yes, there’s sugar in fruit, but it’s bundled up with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. But when you juice a fruit, you squeeze all the sugar into a glass and throw away the fibre - that’s the best bit! Small amounts of 100% fruit juice are okay to have occasionally.
Smoothies use the whole fruit or veg (fibre, pulp and all) and plain milk so are usually a better choice than juice. Steer clear of added sweetening (e.g. honey, syrups) and ingredients like ice cream or sorbet, and watch out for take-away smoothies as they often come in huge portion sizes!
Energy drinks pack around 7 teaspoons of sugar into one of those little cans. And enough caffeine to make drinking lots of these a concern. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol is potentially dangerous as the stimulant effect of the caffeine can mask the effect of the alcohol and increase risk-taking behaviour. Be careful out there.
Flavoured milks might seem like good option - it’s milk, and milk’s good for us, right? Well... yes and no. Dairy milk naturally contains the sugar lactose, which is not a concern for our health. However, flavoured milks can also contain added sugars – up to 7 tsp in a large carton! While milk does have a lot of healthy nutrients like protein and calcium, it’s better to choose plain milk to reap these benefits.
Coconut water has a great PR team! But be careful – there are a lot of health claims made about coconut water that are not supported by scientific evidence. Straight coconut water has about half the sugar of a soft drink, but many packaged coconut waters also contain added sugar, so be sure to check the ingredients list.
Healthier drink ideas
Cherry creaming soda
When the sparkling water hits the frozen cherry mixture this drink fizzes up like a volcano!
Dump the added sugar laden options available from the servo and switch to this easy peasy blended iced coffee
Iced London fog
We've adapted the classic British beverage to help you stay cool in a sweltering Aussie summer.
Peach and rosemary iced tea
Enjoy this beautiful tea with Sunday roast, at a dinner party, or during a celebratory picnic in the park.
This drink combines the fiery heat of ginger with the bright sweetness of pineapple.
This vibrant green drink delivers fruity sweetness to your tastebuds before revealing a powerful punch of earthy green goodness.
This fruity and spicy hug-in-a-mug will warm up your hands and put a rosy glow in your cheeks.
Chickpeas are the secret hero ingredient that makes this peanut butter and banana sensation extra creamy.
It's easy to get sucked in when sugary drinks are all around us. Sugary drinks are heavily marketed and available everywhere, which can undermine people’s effort to be healthy.
We need to set higher standards for how the sugary drink industry markets and sells these products that are making Australians sick.
Here's what you can do to fight back against industry
- Write to your State Member of Parliament asking that sugary drinks and junk food advertising no longer be allowed on state government assets – this includes buses, trains, train stations and many billboards.
- Talk to your school, sports clubs and community centres about their food and drink options.
- Write to your favourite sports team and ask them stop accepting sponsorship and advertising from junk food and sugary drink companies.
- Complain about a sugary drink or junk food ad to the Advertising Standards Bureau.