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Graphic new TV ad highlights health risks of sugary drinks

Sunday 11 October, 2015

CEO experiment reveals what happens after drinking soft drink

A graphic new television advertisement highlighting the serious health effects of regular sugary drink consumption will hit Victorian screens this weekend as part of a campaign encouraging people to cut back.

The new LiveLighter advertisement pictures a man reaching for a sugary drink from a fridge in a convenience store. The camera then takes the viewer inside the man's body for a graphic look at the toxic fat surrounding his vital organs.

In launching the advertisement, Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper this morning guzzled a 600ml bottle of cola – containing 16 teaspoons of sugar – while a doctor monitored the impact on his blood sugar and heart rate.

Mr Harper said the results from the experiment speak for themselves: "Sugary drinks such as soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks contain dangerously high levels of sugar which, as I experienced first-hand today, cause sudden and quite significant changes to your body.

"Within minutes my blood sugar level spiked and I started to feel jittery, but before long my energy levels dropped. For the 1 in 5 Victorian adults1 who consume sugary drinks on a daily basis, this can do serious damage to their vital organs over the long term. The excess sugar in these drinks can turn to toxic fat and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

"We want people to understand that there is nothing sweet about sugary drinks."

Heart Foundation Victoria's Director of Cardiovascular Health Programs Kellie-Ann Jolly said the advertisement was part of LiveLighter's quest to show Victorians exactly how much sugar is in popular drinks and encourage them to choose water instead.

"Sugary drink consumption is contributing significantly to our obesity crisis, with the average Australian soft drink consumer drinking the equivalent to one 375ml can of sugary drink a day2  that's 14.6kg of sugar per year that our bodies don't need," Ms Jolly said.

"Research has shown that consuming a can of sugary drink a day can lead to 6.75kg weight gain in one year, increasing the risk of obesity and weight-related health concerns.

"For decades we've been bombarded by sugary drinks advertising - now for the first time Victorians will see an advertisement about the serious threat regular sugary drink consumption poses to our health."

Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, said the Government wants to see Victorians live, eat and drink healthier.

"There are small changes we can make to our diets and our lifestyles which can improve our long-term health and wellbeing. Even, just one or two less soft drinks a day or a week will make a difference."

"I encourage organisations, businesses and workplaces right across Victoria to think about how we can all make it easier for our family, friends, staff and customers to make healthier choices."

A 30-second TV advertisement and a supporting 15-second TV advertisement will air in Victoria and the ACT from Sunday 11 October. The ads will run in metro and regional areas for six weeks. The campaign also includes supporting cinema, radio and digital advertising in metro and regional areas. A third TV advertisement tailored for Aboriginal communities will air nationally on National Indigenous Television (NITV) for six weeks from Sunday 11 October.

Available for interview: Kylie Charlton

Kylie, 41, knows how a sugary drink addiction can weigh you down, physically and mentally.

For four years the Melbourne real estate agent drank at least one can of Coca-Cola a day, until November last year when she decided enough was enough and gave up.

"I felt addicted to Coca-Cola, addicted to the sugar. When I stopped drinking it, I felt like I was giving up cigarettes or gambling. I had withdrawal symptoms like headaches, overwhelming cravings and mood swings, it was a real struggle," Kylie said.

"But since giving up Coke I've lost 3 kilos. I feel physically lighter and also don't feel so sluggish. I've got more energy and I don't have that constant burning desire and addiction of ‘I have to have it' playing on my mind, which makes life in general just so much better."

Delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria and Heart Foundation, the LiveLighter campaign is funded by the Victorian State Government. For more information visit


  1. Victorian Population Health Survey 201112
  2. Australian Health Survey (Nutrition First Results  Foods and Nutrients, 201112)