Supermarket checkouts overflowing with sugary drinks


New figures from a LiveLighter analysis of major supermarkets in Melbourne have revealed that nearly half of the drinks offered in supermarket checkout fridges are unhealthy sugary drinks.

The analysis found that:

  • On average, nearly half (45%) of the drinks offered at the checkout were sugary drinks
  • 1 in 4 (27%) were ‘diet’ drinks (included sweetener)
  • 6% were low sugar drinks
  • Only 28% of the drinks displayed were sugar and sweetener free (water or flavoured water without sugar or sweetener).

LiveLighter undertook the analysis after statistics from a survey of more than 2,000 Australians aged 18-55 found that 4 in 5 people who drink sugary drinks buy them at the supermarket[1].

The survey also found that 1 in 5 of us are likely to buy junk food and drinks at the checkout.

Two in three Australians are above a healthy weight, along with one in four children[2].

LiveLighter Campaign Manager and Dietitian Alison McAleese said sugary drinks were the biggest contributor to added sugar in Australians’ diets and called on supermarkets to play their part to reduce the exposure of sugary drinks and make water the drink of choice.

“Our supermarket aisles were already packed with cheap sugary drinks, now consumers can’t make it to the checkout without been pushed towards these unhealthy options. It’s no wonder Aussies are hooked on sugary drinks.”

“Studies from the UK have revealed the power of junk-free checkouts in reducing junk food and drink purchases at the supermarket.”

“Supermarkets are well placed to shift the dietary habits of Australians by promoting healthier options to consumers like still and sparkling water, flavoured water with no or minimal added sugar and low sugar versions like kombucha and coconut water.”

“While we love some of the initiatives that supermarkets have already put in place, like providing free fruit for kids, we’d also like to see them reducing promotions for junk food and sugary drinks at the checkout.”

Although diet drinks are low in sugar and kilojoules these drinks have still been linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Research suggests this is because drinking something sweet can prime your body to crave sweet things more often, meaning you’re more likely to eat that piece of cake or chocolate at a later point. Diet soft drinks are also highly acidic which makes them bad for teeth.

LiveLighter encourages all Australians to choose water instead.

Drinks category

Average proportion in checkout drinks fridges*

Soft drinks


Energy drinks


Sports drinks


Iced tea


Flavoured milk


Fruit drinks


Total sugary drinks




Diet soft drinks


Diet energy drinks


Kombucha with sweetener


Diet Sports Drinks


Total diet drinks




Low-sugar flavoured water


Coconut water




Total low-sugar






Flavoured water without sugar or sweetener


Total no sugar or sweetener


*Individual drink categories may not add exactly to totals due to rounding


About the study:

In September 2019 LiveLighter compared the range of beverages at supermarket checkouts available at 10 Coles and Woolworths stores across Melbourne.

[1] LiveLighter’s annual Shape of Australia survey analysed the health, nutrition and physical activity behaviours of more than 2,000 Australians aged 18-55.
[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. 2018.