ADAVB questions industry pledge to cut sugar from drinks

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The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch has said the new pledge from the Australian Beverages Council to reduce sugar across the industry’s product range is really an attempt to avoid the regulation required to make a meaningful impact on health.

The beverage industry has promised to reduce the total sugar across the aggregated sales volume of all non-alcoholic beverages, including soft drinks, energy drinks, bottled water, juice and fruit drink, iced teas and flavoured milks. This means though that companies could potentially meet the pledge by increasing sales of low or no sugar products such as bottled water, rather than making their drinks less sugary.

ADAVB president Dr Kevin Morris said that while this is a step in the right direction, it will do nothing to immediately reduce the amount of sugar in many commonly consumed products.

“A can of Coca Cola will still contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, nearly double the daily limit of six teaspoons recommended by the World Health Organization,” he said.

“It appears to be a smokescreen to divert from the threat of regulation that will make a real impact on sugar consumption.”

ADAVB CEO Associate Professor Matt Hopcraft is strong advocate for sugar reduction, and in particular, for a tax on sugary drinks.

“The overseas experience has shown that a tax on sugary drinks works, with the evidence from many countries that consumers are switching their drink choices,” Professor Hopcraft said.

“The UK model has been even more effective, with manufacturers reformulating products to actually remove sugar from drinks.

“The ongoing advocacy from a wide range of health and consumer groups has been instrumental in forcing the beverage industry on the back foot, and it is disappointing that the Federal Government is not prepared to step up and show some real leadership on this issue.”

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