Gruesome health warnings on obesity-cancer link leads new ad campaign

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th October 2018

HOW long now until sugary drinks carry the sort of gruesome medical images used on cigarette packets warning smokers of the damage to their health?

This week sugar and sugary drinks’ seemingly inexorable journey down the same public health path as nicotine and smoking takes another step.

The Cancer Council Victoria is releasing an ad campaign showing gruesome images of toxic fat on human organs, linking sugar and sugary drinks to obesity and obesity to 13 types of cancer.

The five-week campaign starts on Sunday on TV, radio, social media channels as well as outdoors across the state.

The council says obesity is now a leading preventable cause of cancer, but fewer than half of all Australians are aware of the link.

In this ground-breaking new public awareness campaign, the council exposes the link between obesity and 13 types of cancer by depicting the toxic fat around internal organs.

As many as 98 per cent of Australians are aware that obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but as little as 40 per cent of Australians know about its link with cancer.


Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, acknowledged that the campaign’s portrayal of toxic fat could be confronting but said so was the fact that nearly two-thirds of Australians were overweight or obese.

“While talking about weight is a sensitive issue, we can’t shy away from the risk being above a healthy weight poses to our health.” Mr Harper said.

“With around 3,900 cancers in Australia each year linked to being above a healthy weight, it’s vital that we work hard to help people understand the link and encourage them to take steps to reduce their risk.”

Sugary drinks contribute the most added sugar to Australians’ diets, so Cancer Council Victoria is focusing on how these beverages can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can increase the risk of certain cancers. The campaign will communicate that one way of reducing the risk is to cut sugary drinks from your diet.

The ad features Melbourne surgeon Dr Ahmad Aly exposing in graphic detail what sugary drinks could be doing to your health, as his laparoscopic camera delves inside a patient’s body to expose the dangerous toxic fat around internal organs.

Dr Aly has seen first-hand the impact toxic fat has on people’s health and hopes the campaign will make people think again before reaching for sugary drinks.

“A third of Victorians admit to drinking more than a litre of sugary drink each week, that’s more than 5.5kgs of sugar a year. We want people to realise that they could be drinking their way towards weight gain, obesity and toxic fat, increasing their risk of 13 types of cancer,” Dr Aly said.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said that while the campaign aims to get people thinking about their own habits, Cancer Council Victoria and partner organisations are also working to encourage governments, the food industry, and communities to make changes.

“It’s virtually impossible to escape the enormous amount of marketing for sugary drinks surrounding us on TV, social media and public transport. It’s also easier to get a sugary drink than it is to find a water fountain in many public places, and that’s got to change.  We need to take sugary drinks out of schools, recreation and healthcare settings to make it easier for Victorians to make healthy choices.”

“The need for a healthy weight strategy in Victoria, as well as nationally, is overdue. In the same way tobacco reforms have saved lives, we now need to apply the same approach to improving diets”, Ms Martin said.

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