Empowering people to make healthier choices, like moves at Pyrenees community pools, will drastically curb thirst for sugary drinks, Cancer Council Victoria’s chief says.
Cancer Council findings released on Thursday showed a nine per cent drop in Victorians who consumed four or more cups of sugary drinks each week after a targeted six-week campaign linking sugary drinks with toxic belly fat.
The study, published in British Medical Journal, found no consumption change in South Australia where the campaign did not air.
Cancer Council Victoria chief executive officer Todd Harper said the difference was largely in providing people with information to make healthier diet choices, whether this be via a campaign or product presentation, like at Pyrenees pools, or product price.
Avoca, Beaufort and Landsborough pools avoided 40 kilograms of sugar in the first summer of a phased approach to more prominently present healthier options.
This started with water and lightly flavoured water and last summer expanded to snacks at the YMCA-operated pools.
Ballarat’s thirst for sugary drinks is well-documented with almost one in seven consuming high-sugar beverages daily, according to a study last year.
In parts of regional Victoria, one in four adults is quenching their sweet tooth daily.
Mr Harper supported a much-hyped sugar tax on drinks, saying money raised could be invested into community health awareness.
“(Cancer Council’s) campaign was not only found to be effective in changing behaviour but was also great value for money,” Mr Harper said.
“(A study) showed the same campaign duplicated four times a year for three years would cost $9.8 million but save more than $51 million in health costs.
“There are powerful learnings from this and hopefully this will give governments the confidence to invest in these types of prevention campaigns.”
Mr Harper said there was low general awareness that sugary drinks consumption and weight gain heightened cancer risk.
Plus, awareness of healthier diet was important in cancer recovery.