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The hard facts on soft drinks

Posted by: Julie Meek
Tags: nutrition , health ,

The controversial battle between sugar and fat has been raging for years. Sugar can be super sneaky and quite often hides in low fat products, allowing this sweet nothing to go unnoticed in the quest for a low fat diet.

However, there are plenty of other foods and beverages that cannot hide the presence of sugar and despite this, we continue to consume them. We do this even though we know of the negative health effects it can lead to such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.

A great example of this is the vast array of flavoured fizzy and still beverages available at our fingertips.

At Healthier Workplace WA, we get it. We understand that in your workplace you may be confronted by vending machines, a social club supply or chilled cans and bottles beckoning you from the fridge in your lunch break.

It would seem that you are not alone battling this temptation. According to industry business analysts at IBIS World, the beverage industry is in great shape. They report that $1.10 billion was spent in Australia on energy, sports and health drinks in 2013 with the predicted revenue by 2019 being $1.26 billion.

The revenue from soft drinks such as cola, lemonade and other flavours is not included in this figure, but it has been estimated that you will spend approximately $1,095 in one year if you drink one 375mL can of soft drink a day.

While spending that amount of money on bubbles of sugary liquid certainly hits the hip pocket, it’s not just about your financial status. It has been calculated that consuming the same 375mL can of regular soft drink per day could lead to an astounding weight gain of 6.5kg in one year. This is assuming that these drinks are consumed in addition to the food your body needs and you do not increase your physical activity.

Let’s take a look at what it means for your favourite drink:

Drink Sugar content
600mL cola, lemonade or other soft drink 16 teaspoons of sugar
600mL iced coffee 14 teaspoons of sugar
600mL orange juice 16 teaspoons of sugar
600mL chocolate milk 13 teaspoons of sugar
600mL sports drink 9 teaspoons of sugar
250mL energy drink 7 teaspoons of sugar
500mL Vitamin Water 5 teaspoons of sugar

Looking at the bigger picture, if your favourite thing to drink is orange juice and you consume just one 600mL bottle each day over a year, this means you will end up swallowing a whopping 23kg of sugar.

You can find out how much sugar you drink in a year using LiveLighter’s Sugary Drinks Calculator – you may be surprised.

A habit can be hard to let go of, but next time you reach for a soft drink, juice or other sweet beverage, consider another option such as:

  • Unflavoured soda or sparkling mineral water (the bubbles are refreshing just on their own)
  • Soda or mineral water with a dash of fresh lemon, orange or lime juice (not the pre-bottled variety)
  • Sugar free soft drink (although these don’t offer any nutritional value, they are a better option to sugary drinks)
  • Choosing 100% fruit juice and reducing the serving size to a maximum of 200mL
  • Fresh, unflavoured low fat dairy or soy milk

There are plenty of other, low sugar and low fat drink options that can quench your thirst – your health, waistline and not to mention, your bank account, will thank you!

LiveLighter have some more facts about sugary drinks; and if you're after information on sugar in general, this Sugars Fact Sheet is a great resource.

Until next time...

Julie :)

About Julie Meek

Accredited practising dietitian, performance specialist, speaker

View all posts by Julie Meek

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Healthier Workplace WA. For further information please see Healthier Workplace WA terms of use.

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