Media watch

Australian media headlines - March 2017

Catch up on the most topical issues in sugars and health making the headlines this month

Media discussions centred on sugary drinks this month, across three key themes:

 1.    New research confirms declining sugar consumption in Australia
The Australian Paradox describes the phenomenon of rising obesity coinciding with a decline in sugar consumption in Australia. The term was used in a paper published in 2011 by professor Jennie Brand Miller and Dr. Alan Barclay. Since then some have argued the figures and questioned the data sources. The most recent follow up paper was published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at trends in the availability of sugars and sweeteners and changes in the intake of total sugars, added sugars and SSBs by examining four different data sources. The study confirmed the decline in sugar consumption and challenges the widespread belief that energy from added sugars or sugars in solution are uniquely linked to the prevalence of obesity. To read more about this paper, click here.

2.    Rethink Sugary Drink campaign
10 of Australia’s health groups, including the; Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, and the YMCA – all partners of the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign signed a joint position statement calling for a health levy on sugary drinks.

The key recommendations for the campaign were, “The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends that the Australian Government introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages, as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing overweight and obesity, and with revenue supporting public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.”

Links to both the media release and position statement.

3.    Local initiatives to reduce intake of SSBs
A couple of local and organizational initiatives to reduce the intake of sugar sweetened beverages gained traction in the media this month. Such initiatives included;

  • Residents of Hamilton in Western Victoria have backed a community campaign for the rollout of a national tax on sugar with soft drinks removed from the menu at hospitals in the region and a commitment from a dozen other health providers to do the same. The GenR8 Change community movement is behind the campaign, which has the backing of the Western District Health Service and reinforces the push from the Grattan Institute for a 40-cent levy on every 100g of sugar. 
  • On March 1, Westmead Hospital launched the Rethink Your Drink trial - aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks among staff, patients and visitors. As part of the three-month trial, sugar-sweetened beverages (except flavoured milk) will not be available for purchase in the hospital’s vending machines or food outlets and have been replaced with a range of alternative drinks, including water and natural fruit juice.


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