Huge health benefits by cutting back sugar in sugary drinks

18 October 2017

A new report by The George Institute for Global Health, published in Nutrients magazine, estimates that more than 150,000 Australian deaths could be prevented if the energy content of sugary drinks was cut by around a third.

The study examined the kinds of benefits that would result from sugary drink manufacturers reducing the energy/sugar content of their products by either 5 percent or 30 percent, in addition to measuring the effect of reducing drink packaging sizes to 375ml.

While all the scenarios delivered major gains in lives saved and a considerable reduction in healthcare expenditure, it was the 30 percent reduction in energy content which delivered the most impressive benefits.

For example, it is believed that an extra 822,835 healthy life years would be gained over the lifetime of the Australian population, with an estimated saving $8 billion in healthcare expenditure.

The lead author of the study, Michele Crino, from the George Institute’s Food Policy Division, stressed the importance of these findings.

“There is overwhelming need to reduce the amount of sugar in these drinks and we have shown that not only will it benefit the lives of millions of Australians, it will also save the government and the taxpayers many hundreds of millions of dollars too.”

Her assessment was backed up by the report’s co-author Professor Bruce Neal, Senior Director of the George Institute who noted:

“But 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. 

“And 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."