Summary

  • Drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks like cordial, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, vitamins style waters, flavoured mineral waters and soft drinks.
  • Drinks containing added sugars are not required for good health, and may increase the risk of weight gain in children and adults
  • Sugary drinks contribute to tooth erosion and decay.
  • If looking for an energy boost during or after exercise, reach for some fruit (mandarins, melon wedges or cut oranges) and water.
  • If you are looking for a pick-me-up in the morning or early afternoon try nature’s original fast food – pears, bananas, plums or try a fruit yoghurt or a small handfull of unsalted nuts.
  • Follow the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and select foods and drinks from the five food groups.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that all Australians limit their intake of drinks containing added sugar, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-style waters, flavoured mineral waters, energy and sports drinks.

Sugary drinks are not required for good health and may cause health problems if drunk in large amounts. Drink plenty of water instead of drinks with added sugars.

Reasons to limit sugary drinks


Drinks containing added sugar include sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-style waters, flavoured mineral waters, energy and sports drinks. Consumption of sugary drinks provides additional energy (kilojoules) to the diet, but no other essential nutrients such as protein, minerals vitamins or dietary fibre.

There is strong evidence of the association between the consumption of sugary dinks and excess weight gain in both children and adults, as well as reduced bone strength, and tooth decay .

Limit artificially sweetened soft drinks


Some soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners instead of added sugar. Artificially sweetened drinks add very little energy (kilojoules) to the diet and therefore do not contribute directly to weight gain. However, artificially sweetened drinks still maintain the ‘habit’ of drinking sweet drinks and there is some evidence that consumption of all soft drinks, both diet and sugar sweetened, may lead to decreased bone density as people may drink less milk.

Whether sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners these drinks are acidic. Frequent consumption can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel, a major factor in tooth decay.

For good oral health, tap water has an advantage over many commercially available drinks as it has the beneficial effects of added fluoride. Tap water is also the best choice of drink for hydration (replacing the fluids you lose).

Drinking reduced fat milk helps people to meet their target for the food group ‘milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives’.

The amount of sugar in soft drinks


Soft drinks are now commonly sold in 600 ml bottles, which means people are consuming up to 16 packets (teaspoons) of sugar with each large sugary drink consumed.

Sugary drink Sugar packs
(1 sachet/packet = 4 g sugar
1 LEVEL tsp = 4 g sugar)
Regular softdrink 600 ml bottle 16 packs
(64 g)
Regular softdrink 375 ml can 10 packs
(40 g)
Energy drink (250 ml) 6 packs
(27 g)
Sports drink (600 ml) 9 packs
(36 g)
Vitamin/Nutrient-Style Waters (600 ml) 7 packs
(29 g)
Fruit drink (250 ml)
(“Pop-top” 25% orange juice)
6.5 packs
26 g
Cordial (250 ml)
(blackcurrant, 25% juice, reconstit. to directions)
22.75 g
6 packs

Recommendations for Australians


The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides people of different sex, age and life stage with a recommended eating plan that includes all the nutrients you need to grow and develop, and to live a healthy life.

A variety of foods from the five food groups provide valuable nutrients for the body, while discretionary (‘sometimes’ or ‘extra’) foods and particularly drinks provide additional energy (kilojoules), but do not generally satisfy hunger. For adults, sugary drinks do not usually contribute to feeling full, people tend to eat their usual meal – leading to excess energy intake and weight gain over time.

Discretionary foods and drink, including sugary drinks, are not an essential or necessary part of our dietary patterns. If chosen, they should be included only occasionally and in small amounts.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942

Things to remember

  • Drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks like cordial, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, vitamins style waters, flavoured mineral waters and soft drinks.
  • Drinks containing added sugars are not required for good health, and may increase the risk of weight gain in children and adults
  • Sugary drinks contribute to tooth erosion and decay.
  • If looking for an energy boost during or after exercise, reach for some fruit (mandarins, melon wedges or cut oranges) and water.
  • If you are looking for a pick-me-up in the morning or early afternoon try nature’s original fast food – pears, bananas, plums or try a fruit yoghurt or a small handfull of unsalted nuts.
  • Follow the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and select foods and drinks from the five food groups.
References
  • American Academy of Paediatrics Committee on School Health, 2004, ‘Soft drinks in schools’, Paediatrics, vol. 113, no. 1, pt 1, pp. 152–154.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, Australian Dietary Guidelines, Australian Government. More information here.

More information

Healthy eating

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Health conditions and food

Planning shopping and cooking

Food safety and storage

Nutritional needs throughout life

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - MHW&A - Prevention and Population Health - Food and Nutrition

Last updated: October 2013

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.