SIXTEEN teaspoons of sugar from one 600-millilitre bottle of soft drink consumed once a day for a year comes to 23 kilograms. That's the amount of sugar sitting in a mound in Cancer Council Victoria's offices as it begins campaigning on Thursday for a tax on soft drinks and restrictions on marketing to children.
The Rethink Sugary Drinks campaign, run in conjunction with Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation, features an Australian version of a television ad from the New York City Department of Health in which a man sits at a bar eating 16 sachets of sugar. ''You'd never eat 16 packs of sugar,'' the American ad says, ''Why would you drink 16 packs of sugar?''
One in four Australian children are overweight or obese and health organisations say sugar-sweetened beverages are partly to blame, with 25 per cent of two to 16-year-olds consuming sugary soft drinks daily. ''You are really just getting a vehicle for the delivery of sugar without any nutritional benefit whatsoever,'' said Craig Sinclair, chairman of the public health committee at Cancer Council Australia.
During his university days the drink of choice for Craig Padayachee was Solo, which contains 81 per cent of the recommended daily sugar intake in each 600-millilitre bottle.
Before changing to sugar-free drinks, the 27-year-old IT administrator had regularly drunk three 375 millilitre cans a day at a cafe and said he had soon begun feeling the effects.
''My activity level dropped off quite a bit. I had pretty much no energy,'' Mr Padayachee said.
The Rethink campaign urges Australian governments to consider increasing tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, and reduce children's exposure to soft drink advertising.