Australia’s fight against obesity has been going on for decades. With 63% of the population obese or overweight, Australia’s tipping scale has been a huge worry for doctors. But earlier this year the Australian Beverages Council Limited (ABCL) made a pledge that could change the battle.
Like in a lot of countries around the world, sugary drinks are one of the scourges of obesity. If Australia refuses to input a proper sugar tax, the ABCL has united to reduce sugar by 20 percent in the non-alcoholic beverage industry by 2025.
This sugar reduction will apply across all categories of non-alcoholic drinks including energy drinks, sports and electrolyte drinks, iced teas and cordials, frozen drinks, bottled and packaged water, fruit drinks, flavoured milk and carbonated soft drinks.
Big companies like Coca-Cola South Pacific, Coca-Cola Amatil, PepsiCo, Asahi Beverages and Frucor Suntory are part of the project, but will they really reduce the quantity of sugar in their famous drinks?
According to Timothy Gill, Research Programs Director and Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders “this sugar reduction scheme is just a smoke screen and will not reduce obesity”.
“When I first read the statement, I thought it was excellent, but they just agreed to reduce the percentage of sugar in the total volume of product they sell, this is very disappointing”.
Indeed, the sugar present in individual drinks is not required to be reduced in this pledge as it will be measured by sales volume; the industry just need better sales of low-sugar drinks.
The iconic high-sugar drinks will not have to be reformulated, and will contain the exact same amount of sugar; still way above the daily World Health Organisation recommendation.
A magic trick according to Timothy Gill, “It is a new initiative by the beverage industry but the big companies will continue to hold onto the sugary beverage market until the consumer kicks them out and this could take twenty years”.
But Australia’s sweet-toothed population is already orchestrating a change and starting to turn their backs from sugary soft drinks, favouring low sugar drinks such as Kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented tea made from a mix of wild bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, water, organic sugar and black or green tea.
Very popular, easy to make and to store, Kombucha is the new star of fermented drinks.
A new healthier alternative to soft drinks.
For the past few years the fizzy healthy drink has been under the spotlight and has hit the heart of Australian consumers, growing its sales by seven times in the last two years.
If the growing sales of Kombucha are a surprise for some, it is not for Mariana Diniz, Head Naturopath & BICOM Practitioner at Health Space Clinics Sydney.
“In Australia, people are becoming more and more health conscious. Especially in Sydney it is part of the lifestyle to be healthy, with the weather and the beach people want to show their body, they will not go for high sugary drinks, Kombucha is their alternative”.
But the naturopath also points out the fact that there is a massive lifestyle disease problem in the country. “More and more Australians are becoming sicker and traditional medicine does not always help, they are turning to healthier and natural alternatives, this is why Kombucha sales are high too”.
This was the story of John Leith, who suffered from diabetes for many years. After taking drugs without seeing much result, he tried Kombucha. Drinking the fermented drink helped him to reduce his type 2 diabetes to normal in just five weeks. But, John did not drink a random Kombucha: “I used hemp Kombucha”!
“After researching an alternative to drugs for my diabetes, I discovered the benefits of Kombucha and the benefits of hemp. I decided to mix them together and the result was way greater than expected”.
Leith has now launched his own Hemp Kombucha drinks in order to help people who suffer from diseases, just like him.
“This is the next level of health drink”.
A smart combination according to Diniz, “You are adding an effect, Kombucha is really good for your guts, it helps you to have a good immune system and the right mental health balance. When paired with hemp, a superfood rich in omega 3 and 6, which is anti-inflammatory and helps the hormonal balance; it is even better!”.
If Kombucha is a healthier alternative to soft drinks, Timothy Gill recalls that water should be the primary drink people consume, the rest should be special event drinks.
Nonetheless, the expert notes that “flavoured waters are also a good alternative to soft drinks as long as they contain just a small amount of sweetener; they are part of the new healthy beverages for consumers”.
A healthy market well understood by Leith who also offers a Hemp infused water with absolutely “no sugar added”.
You haven't tried Kombucha yet? Here are 4 reasons why you should!