Bitter truth about soft drink
One in six Australian teenage boys is drinking more than 50 litres of soft drink a year, research reveals.
A Cancer Council study found 17 per cent of teenage boys had at least one litre of soft drink a week, compared with less than 10 per cent of girls drinking the same amount.
It also showed adolescents who drank a lot of soft drink were about twice as likely not to be eating enough fruit and to be consuming more junk food and energy drinks.
The research from the National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity survey was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
Kathy Chapman, chairwoman of the council’s nutrition and physical activity committee, said teenage boys were putting themselves at higher risk of adult obesity, a known cancer risk, as well as other chronic diseases.
“A litre of soft drink a week may not sound like much, but over a year it equates to at least 5.2kg of extra sugar,” she said.
“This doesn’t even account for other sugar-sweetened beverages such as energy drinks, cordials and fruit-flavoured drinks or the sugar they consume in junk food and snacks.
“Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are energy-dense and offer no nutritional value. There is no good reason for teens to be consuming them this often.”
Ms Chapman said while soft drink consumption in teenagers had been decreasing, those who drank a lot of it were more likely to be getting the products through high school canteens or vending machines.
Australian Beverages Council chief executive Geoff Parker said the finding was not surprising. He said a CSIRO analysis of data from the Australian Health Survey also found teenage boys ate more pies, hamburgers, French fries and potato chips.
“Most importantly, the CSIRO analysis also found that for boys, there was no clear association between per cent consuming soft drinks and the amount they consumed, and weight status,” Mr Parker said.
“Overweight and obese boys weren’t drinking more than underweight or normal-weight boys and there weren’t more of them.”
He said there needed to be a broader debate about diet and exercise rather than focusing on soft drinks.
Over a year, a litre of soft drinks a week will equate to at least 5.2kg of extra sugar.