Last updated January 11, 2018 at 10:45 am
As Australia heads into another scorcher of a summer, it’s important to stay hydrated. Just make sure to hold back on the sugary drinks. A new campaign targeting Indigenous communities is putting this message out there to improve their long-term health.
It’s not a hidden fact that the standard of health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is significantly lower. Yet it remains to be fixed until we close the gap.
Sugary drinks, consumed in excess, can lead to weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Other health risks from sugary drinks include tooth decay. Australia is in the top 10 countries for consumption of soft drink per capita.
The details from the 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed some worrying facts.
The consumption of sugar is much higher in Indigenous populations. In fact, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consume 15 grams (almost 4 teaspoons) more free sugars on average than non-Indigenous people. Beverages is the most common source of free sugar for both populations. Two thirds of all the free sugars consumed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people came from beverages, mostly in the form of soft drinks, sports and energy drinks.
It forms a larger trend of excessive sugar consumption. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are consuming about 14 per cent of their total energy intake as free sugars, according to the health survey.
“Free sugars include the sugars added by consumers in preparing foods and beverages plus the added sugars in manufactured foods, as well as honey and the sugar naturally present in fruit juice,” said Director of Health at the ABS, Ms Louise Gates.
There is no recommended ‘daily intake’ of sugar. However, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars.
The Murri people in Cape York community have been spreading the word with the messaging ‘Sugary Drinks Proper No Good!’ and ‘Drink More Water Youfla!’
It links to a larger national campaign for all Australians to “ReThink Sugary Drink”.