World Obesity Day: Beverage intake adding to hefty burden

Say ‘no’ to sugary drinks – that’s the message Cancer Council Queensland is urging people to heed and organisations to throw their support behind, this World Obesity Day (October 11).

This past week a report [1] was released by Queensland Health, using source data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showing that one in 10 adults and one in 12 children consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said although several factors influence obesity rates, research suggests that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food plays a significant role.

She said comprehensive action needs to be taken to highlight the amount of sugar and empty kilojoules in these drinks and the potential health impacts of high levels of consumption.

“Many people don’t realise the impact of sugary drinks on weight gain. For example, one 600mL  bottle of regular soft drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar,” Ms McMillan said.

“Research has shown that 13 types of cancer are more common in people who are above a healthy weight and one of the easiest things people can do to reduce their risk is to reduce sugary drink consumption.”

Every year in Australia, about 3900 cancer cases are attributed to unhealthy weight gain and research published in the International Journal of Cancer shows over 200,000 cancer cases could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if all Australian adults maintained a healthy weight and met the physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention [2].

Ms McMillan said there has never been a more urgent time to address the rise in overweight and obesity in the community.

“Given over 60 per cent of Queensland adults are above a healthy weight and 40 per cent are not active enough, we have the potential to prevent a significant number of cancers in Queensland and potentially save thousands of lives,” Ms McMillan said. [3]

“Everyone has the right to a healthy life where healthy choices are easy to make. Sadly, in our modern world, consuming a healthy diet and enjoying an active lifestyle is often hard. For many people, this translates to being above a healthy weight and ill health.

“This World Obesity Day we urge workplaces, schools, non-government organisations and all levels of government, to commit or renew their commitment to making changes to move away from sugar-sweetened beverages and help facilitate healthy choices.

“We need to ensure kids are growing up in healthy environments where they are not bombarded with junk food advertising and we need to make sure junk food and sugary drinks are restricted in settings where our kids learn and play.

“We know that the Queensland community is behind this and we need to work together to succeed in halting the rise in obesity and we need to do this now.” [4]

Cancer Council Queensland is calling for stronger government restrictions to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including advertising restrictions on TV, the internet and games, and outdoor advertising spaces; a strategy that was supported by between 80-87 per cent of respondents to a 2018 Everyday Health Survey conducted by the charity in 2018. [4]

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at


[1] Queensland Health. Selected health characteristics for regional populations, Queensland 2017-18:

[2]  Wilson, L., Baade, P., Green, A., Jordan, S., Kendall, B., Neale, R., Olsen, C., Youlden, D. Webb, P., Whiteman, D., The impact of changing the prevalence of overweight/obesity and physical inactivity in Australia: An estimate of the proportion of potentially avoidable cancers 2013–2037, 2018.

[3] Report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland, 2018:

[4] Cancer Council Queensland and Heart Foundation undertook an Everyday Health Survey in 2018 that explored community perceptions of sugar-sweetened beverages and proposed regulations to reduce consumption. To this end, survey findings show that overall 63% to 93% of the community support proposed regulations to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. In particular, 63% supported introducing a 20% health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages, 87% supported removing sugar-sweetened beverages from children’s settings, 77% supported a government funded consumer education campaign and 81% supported removing sugar-sweetened beverages from government health facilities.

Note to Editors:

World Obesity has published an Image Bank for media, picture editors and healthcare professionals to use when writing about obesity. This includes a range of non-stigmatising visuals in different settings, providing a more accurate reflection of living with obesity. You can find the Image Bank, here.

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Maynard, Manager, Public Relations and Social Media, Cancer Council Queensland
M. 0488 015 702 or E.