There's some good news on the diet front after all. Latest figures seem to show that Australians are moving away from sugar-sweetened drinks and opting instead for diet soft drinks and even water.
According to the Director of the National Centre of Excellence in Functional Foods at the University of Wollongong, Professor Linda Tapsell, their current study shows how Australian beverage purchasing habits have changed over a relatively short period of time.
Prior to the findings released today, the last research into Australian beverage consumption trends was the 1995 National Nutrition Survey, more than a decade ago.
"It is important from a public health perspective to understand that Australian diets are likely to be constantly changing. The lack of regular up-to-date information from National Dietary Surveys is a problem, but purchasing pattern data can be useful. This information has added value in the level of detail it provides on different types of products," said Professor Tapsell.
The study found that:
Since 2002 Australians have decreased their purchase of sugar from carbonated soft drinks by 12,402 tonnes. This equates to 330 million cans of sugar sweetened soft drinks.
Overall, Australians are purchasing more water-based beverages, with total sales increasing 13 per cent between 1997 and 2006. This growth is largely due to increases in the sales of diet drinks and water. In total, sales of sugar sweetened carbonated soft drink decreased by 118 million litres between 2002 and 2006.
There was an increase in sales of new functional, sugar sweetened beverages such as sports, energy drinks and iced teas from 2002-2006, but the decline in sugar contribution from soft drinks was three times greater than the increase in sugar contribution from functional beverages.
The independent research, funded by the Australian Beverages Council1, was carried out at the National Centre of Excellence in Functional Foods at the University of Wollongong. It examined AC Nielson grocery scan data from 1997 to 2006.
"Our study is a very good example of how analyses of industry data can assist health professionals with information that may be of use in public health initiatives," Professor Tapsell said.
The research has been published in the Journal of Nutrition & Dietetics.