Locals encouraged to choose healthy drink options

By Laura Briggs

Recreational centres in the region are encouraging healthier drink options in the hope of tackling shocking statistics.

Greater Shepparton City Council project officer for the Water in Sport initiative Katie Thorp said the results were a concern for the town after numbers recently surfaced about obesity and dental hygiene.

‘‘At the moment here in Shepparton with the proportion of the children aged 13 to 17 years, 74 per cent of them have got a decayed tooth; and then 18 to 24 years, 88 per cent of people have a decayed tooth,’’ Ms Thorp said.

‘‘Currently in Shepparton we’re averaging around 58.7 per cent of people are either overweight or obese, which is significantly higher than the Victorian average of 49.8 per cent.’’

For that reason, the council has taken on the national campaigns Water in Sport and Rethink Sugary Drink.

‘‘There’s two parts to it — so the Water in Sport project that I’m working on is looking at all the drinks fridges in council recreation centres, so we’re looking at the basketball stadium, Aquamoves, KidsTown and all the outdoor pools,’’ Ms Thorp said.

‘‘We’re looking at how fridges are displayed and making sure that there’s all the best options. So, your green options are front and centre for people and then working down from there, so you’ve got your amber drinks, which is your still-not-so-bad but not great, and then the very bottom of the fridge being your red drinks, so your full strength Cokes, etc.’’

Ms Thorp said while the Water in Sport campaign was aimed at Shepparton’s general public, the Rethink Sugary Drinks Campaign was aimed at young males who seemed to be the heaviest consumers.

‘‘The government has just released a new version of their Rethink Sugary Drinks Campaign, which is solely targeted at 14-to-24-year-old males and it’s looking at the effects in which sugary drinks have on their teeth,’’ she said.

Ms Thorp said results had shown some young males were drinking up to 1.5 litres of soft drink per day.

‘‘They’re pretty shocking stats. This message really needs to get out to people in Shepparton and especially our young males because they’re the ones that are guzzling the most,’’ she said.

Ms Thorp said by filling the fridges with more water, she hoped people would support the change and consider taking the healthy option.

‘‘We’re certainly not wanting to take people’s options away. We’re not trying to say that you can only drink that or can only eat that, but we’re just wanting to assist people in making the best choice,’’ she said.

Ms Thorp said she got on board with the two-year Water in Sport project last June and was pleased with the progress in seeing changes made.

She hoped by the end of the two years the recreational centres would also have a range of healthier food options to further assist members of the Shepparton community to lead healthy lifestyles.