Australian Beverage Council Chief says Rethink Sugary Drinks campaign is ‘misguided’

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st January 2013

The Australian Beverages Council which represents the interests of soft drink marketers in Australia says the recent Rethink Sugary Drinks campaign is ‘misguided.’

The new campaign launched last week by the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council and Diabetes Australia aims to reduce Australians’ intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker said that focussing on “a single source of kilojoules” in an average diet “hasn’t worked in the past.”

“No one food or beverage causes overweight or obesity. Consuming more kilojoules than what is burnt through physical activity is what leads to weight gain,” Mr Parker said.

“All kilojoules count regardless of the source. The industry produces a range of hydration options to suit everybody’s lifestyle and all beverages can be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet supported by regular physical activity” Mr Parker added.

Referencing a recent study by the World Health Organisation on sugar intake and weight status, Mr Parker said that that ‘it’s the calories (kilojoules) that count and not anything unique about sugar’, that contributes to weight gain.

“Swapping sugar for other forms of carbohydrate, such as that from starches and grains, will not stop weight gain,” Mr Parker claimed.

Mr Parker said that the Australian Beverages Council has been part of voluntary initiatives to reduce obesity including:

  • Restricted marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages to children under 12 years of age
  • Clearly labelled the kilojoules on a per serve basis on the front label of cans and bottles
  • Reformulated products to include a wide range of low and no kilojoule options
  • Restricted sales of sugar-sweetened soft drinks to primary schools and complied with all relevant school canteen guidelines.

The developments in Australia have coincidentally emerged at a time when beverage companies such as Coca-Cola North America are publicising their own involvement in ways to address obesity.

A still from the new Rethink Sugary Drink campaign.