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Watering down sugar risk

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February 14, 2018

THE CITY of Greater Bendigo will receive a share of $500,000 worth of funding as part of VicHealth’s Water in Sport Initiative.

The Water in Sport Initiative is an attempt to drive down the sales of sugary drinks at suburban sporting grounds and replace them with water.

The move comes as an interest grows in a sugar tax to combat obesity.

A study conducted in 2010 by the Department of Health and Human Services showed 57 per cent of people in Greater Bendigo were overweight or obese.

This was a worse percentage of overweight persons than any other regional centre including Mildura, Wodonga, Greater Geelong, Latrobe, Greater Shepparton and Ballarat.

Five years later a Greater Bendigo Wellbeing Survey — which was based on self-reporting — suggested 46.1 per cent of people in the Heathcote and District area believe they are overweight or obese.

VicHealth chief executive Jerrill Rechter said the project is an attempt to turn these tides.

“We know that too much sugar in our diet contributes to a range of major health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and stroke,” Ms Rechter said.

“The average Australian eats 14 teaspoons of added sugar each day — most of that extra sugar comes from sugary drinks, such as sports and energy drinks. A standard 600ml sports drink contains a whopping 11 teaspoons of sugar.

“Unfortunately we constantly find a smorgasbord of these drinks at venues where children and families regularly play and watch sport.”

City of Greater Bendigo Active and Health and Lifestyles Manager Lincoln Fitzgerald said the funding will be used to promote water as the drink of choice at a minimum of 10 City owned venues.

“We will also be working with local clubs and groups to implement the program on a wider basis,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Heathcote Health chief executive Dan Douglass said he supports the move towards building sporting clubs that are wary of health risks.

‘‘Obesity is an issue for every community member and is the responsibility of every community leader to implement activities that support good food and drink choices.’’

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