Reduce sugar in beverages and ‘save 150,000 Australian lives and $8 billion’

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

If the packaging sizes of single-serve bottles or cans were reduced to 375ml, that alone would deliver health savings of $750.8 million and 73,883 extra life years.
If the packaging sizes of single-serve bottles or cans were reduced to 375ml, that alone would deliver health savings of $750.8 million and 73,883 extra life years.

Related tags Nutrition Health care

Slashing the energy content of sugary drinks by a third could save more than 150,000 Australian lives that come to a premature end and $8 billion in health costs, said a new report by The George Institute for Global Health.

The study, published in Nutrients​ journal, examined the lifetime health benefits of reducing the energy or sugar content of soft drinks.

It stated that if the packaging sizes of single-serve bottles or cans were reduced to 375ml, that alone would deliver health savings of $750.8 million and 73,883 extra healthy life years.

According to the findings, a mandatory reduction in the energy content of sugary drinks by about 30% saw the greatest benefit with an extra 822,835 healthy life years gained over the lifetime of the Australian population.

Michelle Crino, lead author of the study for The George Institute’s Food Policy Division, said the results were a clear demonstration of the harm from sugary drinks.

In the study, the costs for delivering any of these types of interventions were also estimated. A joint mandatory energy reduction and package size reduction would cost about $210 million. 

Co-author Professor Bruce Neal, senior director of The George Institute, said: “What we now have before us in black and white are the sheer numbers of lives that can be saved if industry made just moderate changes to the drinks it sells."

“The effects would be immediate and profound: thousands living healthier lives, free of the symptoms of obesity and tooth decay, and at much reduced risks of stroke, heart disease and diabetes,” ​he said.

The Australian government has so far quashed​ calls for new legislation or a “sugar tax”.

Elsewhere, Singapore has very recently been weighing up measures​ to enforce its sugar reduction initiatives, such as ad bans and label warnings.

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