Sugary drinks. Whether it’s soft drink, sweetened beverages, energy drinks or flavoured mineral waters, we all know they don’t make for a particularly balanced diet and we shouldn’t be drinking them daily. But do we know the true dangers of these drinks and how they are impacting our health?
Sugary drinks are a significant contributor to the Australian public health crisis. New national figures show that almost half of the 10 million Aussies who fall into overweight or obese categories consume sweetened beverages, with some drinking more than a litre a day. And the Australian Health Survey Results for Sweetened Beverages shows consumption of sweetened beverages is twice as high for those who are overweight or obese compared with Aussies who are underweight or a normal weight.
While you may see the clear link between obesity and sugary drinks, many people are unaware that being overweight or obese can increase the risk of some cancers and chronic diseases.
The World Health Organisation recommends limiting sugar consumption from both food and drinks to no more than six teaspoons a day for optimum health. That may seem impossibly high, but just a few sips of a sweetened beverage could exceed that recommendation and undo the benefits of an otherwise healthy diet.
The study revealed that consumption of flavoured mineral waters almost equals that of soft drink, making it one of the most commonly consumed sweetened beverages in the study. While it might seem like a healthy alternative, flavoured mineral water can also contain extremely high amounts of sugar.
So if you’re already hooked on the sweet stuff, what beverage should you switch to for good health? To enjoy a well-balanced diet, Cancer Council Queensland recommends drink eight glasses of water each day and avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages. If you’re after a bit more flavour than plain water can provide, why not mix it up with some fruity flavours? Try infusing your water with mint, fresh lime and cucumber, fresh strawberries, or orange and mint. Or for something really refreshing, try making ice cubes out of frozen fresh fruit and add that to soda water or cold tap water.
When maintaining a healthy diet, always read the labels and aim for six teaspoons or fewer – that’s a total daily energy intake of 24 grams of sugar from food and drinks combined.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland and leading a healthy life is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.