Sugary Drinks Brain freeze - When a $1 drink becomes a part of our everyday

27/11/2017

As featured on Today Tonight.

As the weather heats up, beware the barrage of $1 frozen sugary drink promotions. Available in fast food outlets, petrol stations, sports centres and delis, you could be forgiven for thinking that at $1 a frozen treat is a fun, harmless way to treat yourself in the warmer weather.

“The junk food industry continues to find new ways to bring in customers and encourage eating and drinking more of their sugar laden products,” says Maria Szybiak LiveLighter’s Campaign Director, “with profit top of mind, the strategy of making cheap and accessible junk food look attractive isn’t new”.

Junk food manufacturers, including those producing frozen sugary drinks, operate within a self-regulated industry. Bombarded with sugary drink promotions, brand ambassadors, gaming apps and targeted social media posts, we don’t stand a chance. The onslaught of $1 frozen sugary drink promotions encourages people to come to the outlet and buy additional junk food items not only increasing the amount of money spent, but also the amount of kilojoules consumed.

“We know that 7/11 stores currently promote a large frozen sugary drink containing over 30 teaspoons of sugar *,” says LiveLighter’s Emma Groves, “that’s the equivalent of almost 5 mars bars or 11 doughnuts”. The World Health Organisation guidelines recommend no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Frozen sugary drinks are a leading contributor of added sugar in the diet of many Australians. We can take in energy (kilojoules) through drinks as well as food. The excessive added sugar in frozen sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and the accumulation of toxic fat. Carrying excess weight can lead to heart disease, fatty liver disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

From November, LiveLighter is tackling the $1 frozen drink frenzy head on, strategically buying ad space on billboards and bus shelters in Perth and some regional areas with their #dontbesuckedin campaign.

“Compared to the junk food industry budget, our spending for this campaign is minimal,” says Ms Szybiak, “yet if we can place advertisements in key places to remind people of the health risks associated with the consumption of sugar drinks, we may be able to counteract some of its impact”.

Rates of overweight and obesity continue to grow in Western Australia and the long-term health costs for the Government will continue to be of growing concern. It can’t rely solely on individual decisions though, and the environment in which we live is key in ensuring we can make the healthy choice the easy choice.

“LiveLighter continues to work with a range of stakeholders in developing a comprehensive approach when it comes to the health of Western Australians,” says Ms Szybiak, “from industry regulation to federal, state and local government initiatives, there is no one size fits all solution”.

Elements of the campaign will also be rolled out in Victoria via Rethink Sugary Drink, an alliance of 18 health and community organisations.

Spokesperson for Rethink Sugary Drink, Craig Sinclair, said it would be difficult for a person to fit in the amount of exercise required to burn off the 30 teaspoons of sugar in a day.

“It might take you 10 minutes to drink a frozen drink, but you’ll need to find much more time to work it off. You would need to walk for nearly two hours, yet we know most people struggle to fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day. From a dental perspective, there’s no way to dodge the impact that much sugar has on your teeth,” said Mr Sinclair.

Don’t Be Sucked In:

  • Stop and think when it comes to frozen sugary drinks
  • Choose water instead – some fast food outlets will provide water free of charge
  • Plan ahead and pack your refreshments at home
  • Remember the motives of frozen sugary drink promotions – are you being sucked in to extra kilojoules, sugar and spending?

 For more information on LiveLighter’s Don’t be Sucked In campaign visit the LiveLighter website.

 

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* Note: LiveLighter WA conducted analysis in November 2017.

As of 10th January 2018, after media enquiry, 7/11 updated nutritional analysis on their website. A mega sized Slurpee (based on 1182ml) contains 81.6 grams of sugar which is equivalent to 20.4 teaspoons of sugar per serve.

Media contact:

Michelle Weall, Marketing and Communications Manager, on 08 9382 5917 / 0430 465 657 or Michelle.Weall@heartfoundation.org.au