One in six teenage boys who drinks excessive amounts of soft drink is also more likely to be watching too much television and not getting enough sleep, a survey of Australian high school students reveals.

Teenagers who drink at least a litre of soft drink each week, considered “heavy consumers’, are also more likely to skimp on fruit and fill up on junk food, according to the Cancer Council’s National Secondary Students’ Diet Survey.

The survey, which adds to growing debate over the merits of a national sugar tax, quizzed nearly 8000 secondary students in 2012-13, and found 14 per cent – or an estimated 150,000 students aged 12 to 17 – were drinking at least a litre of soft drink per week.

That is 52 litres of soft drink a year.

Teenagers who slept less than eight hours per school night were 34 per cent more likely to be a heavy consumer of soft drink, and those who watched more than two hours a day of television were 48 per cent more likely to be heavy drinkers.

“What we are seeing is a clustering of unhealthy behaviours that are setting teens up for future chronic health conditions.  Soft drink is one part of a very worrying picture,” said Kathy Chapman, Chair of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee at Cancer Council Australia.

– Rania Spooner

Read more: Soft drink sugar overload the tip of unhealthy teen behaviour

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