YCHANGe backs calls to limit soft drinks

A UNIVERSITY professor overseeing research into a Yarriambiack obesity prevention program has reiterated the message that water is the best drink for children and adults alike.

A new study published in Medical Journal of Australia this month revealed the total glucose concentration in Australian soft drinks was 22 per cent higher than in similar beverages in the United States of America.

Colin Bell, professor of public health in the School of Health and Medicine at Deakin University, said it was worth noting that there was a difference in the type of sugar used in the beverages.

“In Australia, it’s sugar cane-based, whereas in the US, it’s high fructose corn syrup,” he said.

“But it’s not so much the amount of sugar, but the amount of these drinks we are consuming.”

Prof Bell is overseeing research into the Yarriambiack Creating Health, Active, Nourished Generations program, known as YCHANGe.

The program is a partnership between Rural Northwest Health, Deakin University, Dunmunkle Health Services, and Yarriambiack Shire Council.

Prof Bell said YCHANGe was “taking a real stand” on the availability of sugary beverages in public spaces, as it was not consistent with health promotion messages.

He backed calls from advocacy group Parents’ Voice to limit the sale of soft drinks and other sugar-based beverages within the community

In April, Parents’ Voice launched an Australian first campaign: #waterwiththat.

The campaign urged all signatories to the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children to supply water with children’s meals.

Tooth decay was among the concerns, with 47 per cent of children consuming at least one sugary drink a day.

Prof Bell said YCHANGe had “a range of strategies” to combat obesity, including working with cafes to provide healthy food and beverage options, along with reducing exposure to sugary beverages through vending machines, sports clubs and at schools.

“Kids don’t need sugar-sweetened beverages – water is the obvious and best choice,” he said.

“But it’s not the only unsweetened alternative, for adults, there is tea and coffee that you don’t have to add sugar to.

“I’m sure there are many creative ways that people can get around the taste, and the taste of water actually improves as your palate gets used to a reduction in sugar.”