A senior health organisation is urging Australians to switch all of their sugary drinks for water in January.
The aim of the challenge is to help kick our sugary drink habit and prevent the serious health side effects, such as obesity and tooth decay.
Sugar sweetened beverages are the biggest source of sugars in the Australian diet, says the Victorian government-funded health organisation VicHealth.
Those aged 18 to 34 year-olds are the highest consumers of sugary drinks, says VicHealth.
Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, ready-to-drink iced tea, flavoured water and cordial — all of these should be completely avoided during the month-long challenge, according to VicHealth.
The Australian Beverages Council has hit back at the challenge, saying the kilojoules in soft drinks make up only one part of people’s diets.
But there could be even more reason to quit sugar for water.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health earlier this year looked at what effect sugary soft drinks have on the body’s natural ageing process.
The US researchers found that guzzling full-sugar carbonated drinks speed up the shrinkage of the body’s ‘telomeres’, which protect your DNA from damage.
Of the 5000 Americans aged 20 to 65 they tested, those who said they drank 350ml of soft drink per day had cell damage similar to those 4.6 years older. Those who drank 237ml a day were 1.9 years older, based on the damage to their cells.
Shorter DNA telomeres are linked to higher risk for heart disease and some cancers, which is why the study concluded that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas “might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging”.