Aussie health experts fear cheap sugary drinks weighing on obesity rates

Hard-to-resist sugary drink promotions at Australia’s largest supermarket chains could be leading to an upswing in obesity rates, according to a new health study on Tuesday.

The research led by Deakin University epistemologist, Kathryn Backholer, found that of the 1000 beverages on Australia’s supermarket shelves, one third have their prices slashed every week to tempt buyers.

Although the price specials might be good for business and welcomed by many shoppers, health experts in Australia are concerned the cheap deals are sending the wrong message to consumers.

“So obviously, the diet consists of a whole lot more than sugary drinks and there are lots of other things that contribute to an unhealthy diet, but sugary drinks are the single, number one contributor to excess energy intake in the daily diet,” she told Xinhua.

Although Backholer believes it is up to individuals to make their own decisions when it comes to their dietary choices, with one in four Australian children now suffering from obesity, she is calling on the government to step in and take action.

“There’s no reason why our food environments have to be shaped by industries that put profit over public health,” Backholer said.

“I think we need a multi-pronged approach (to public health), but in terms of price promotions, one of the things that the government can do is devise a strategy to reduce the influence of price promotions.”

“So for example in the U.K. at the moment, there’s a proposal to restrict price promotions on unhealthy foods and beverages. Essentially, this is a policy to try and make supermarket environments favor healthy options.”