Australia’s teenagers are the target of a hard-hitting new ad campaign that warns they might soon be flashing shonky smiles unless they give up their addiction to sugary drinks.
The Rethink Sugary Drink campaign, supported by Cancer Council Victoria, focuses on Australians aged 12-24, particularly boys and young men.
Kicking off to the sound of a soft drink can opening, the Thirsty advertisement rolls through a range of young males barrelling the camera before their appearance is shattered as they flash their grotesquely rotten smiles.
Cancer Council Victoria head of prevention Craig Sinclair said he hoped the graphic portrayal of tooth decay would prompt young Aussies to realise sugary drinks are just not worth losing your teeth over.
“We know young Australians are hooked on sugary drinks. Males aged 12-24 are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks, with some consuming as much as 1.5 litres of soft drinks, sports drinks or energy drinks a day,” he said.
“These drinks don’t just ruin your smile. In the long run, the high levels of sugar they contain can also lead to unhealthy weight gain, which increases the risk of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and 13 types of cancer.
“We know men are twice as likely as women to consume sugary drinks, so targeted hard-hitting campaigns like this are crucial if we want to end the young Aussie male’s love affair with sugary drinks.”
Australian Dental Association Victorian branch chief executive Matthew Hopcraft said there were 70,000 hospitalisations in Australia in 2016-2017 due to dental conditions.
“Considering tooth decay is largely preventable, these figures are incredibly concerning,” Associate Professor Hopcraft said.
“Nearly 50 per cent of Australian children have tooth decay, and fizzy drinks are a major contributor of added sugar in their diets.”
There was one important, free way to minimise the risk of tooth decay, he said.
“If Australians can simply cut back on sugary drinks or remove them entirely from their diet, their teeth will be much stronger and healthier for it,” he said.
“We recommend taking a look at how much sugar is in these drinks; people may be shocked to know some have as many as 16 teaspoons of sugar. Water is always the best choice and your teeth will thank you in the long run.”
The Thirsty campaign will be launched in Melbourne on Wednesday.