Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Drinks Resource Package

Fact Sheet - What are the effects of consumption of high sugar drinks?

Page last updated: 17 September 2014

PDF Version of Fact Sheet - What are the effects of consumption of high sugar drinks? (PDF 146 KB)

What are the effects of consumption of high sugar drinks?

Fast Facts

  • High consumption of high sugar drinks can lead to weight gain, being overweight can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
  • High sugar drink consumption is associated with tooth decay in all age groups and related impacts on long-term health.
  • Soft drinks and other highly sweetened drinks such as cordial and fruit drinks generally provide a high number of kilojoules but few nutrients.
  • Soft drinks are known to contain on average approximately 9 teaspoons of sugar for each regular (375ml) can consumed.
  • Diet soft drinks contain significantly less sugar or kilojoules, but they are acidic and can damage tooth enamel.

Long term impacts

  • Early introduction of high sugar beverages can have a major impact on the health of infants. “Consumption of these drinks is associated with a decline in milk consumption and reduced intake of important nutrients such as vitamins A, C, folate, calcium and magnesium.” (1)
  • In the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, researchers identified that older girls aged 12-16 years were most at risk of not reaching their daily calcium nutrient requirement, with sweetened beverages most likely to have displaced milk in their diet (DoHA 2008).(2)
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages can contain saturated fats (flavoured whole milks), excess sugar (soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks) and are highly acidic.
  • The Obesity Working Group (Preventative Health Taskforce, 2009) found the prevalence of overweight and obese individuals higher within Indigenous groups than the wider Australian population, with approximately 60% of the Indigenous population aged 18 years and above being overweight.
  • The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey identified Indigenous Australians to be 1.2 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be overweight; 1.9 times as likely to be obese and over 3 times more likely to be morbidly obese. (3)
  • Causes of tooth enamel loss include "the exposure to acid from the consumption of soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit and fruit juices..." (4) and other foods and drinks containing sugars and acids.
  1. Rangan, A; Hector, D; Louie, J; Flood, V; Gill, T (2009). "Soft drinks, weight status and health: health professional update". Sydney, NSW Cluster of Public Health Nutrition.
  2. Department of Health and Ageing (2008). "2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey - Main Findings", Department of Health and Ageing. Canberra, accessed June 2011.
  3. Preventative Health Taskforce (2009). "Technical Report 1 - Obesity in Australia: a need for urgent action". Australia: the healthiest country by 2020. Australian Government, Canberra.
  4. Australian Dental Association Inc. (2010). Policy Statement 2.2.2: Community Oral Health Promotion: Diet & Nutrition.