Childhood obesity is becoming an increasing concern and in Australia 1 in 4 children are considered overweight or obese.

For Australians aged between 4 and 17 years, obesity is a very concerning condition as once gained it is quite hard to lose. And one of the main causes of this problem? Sugar.

With Summer here, kids across the country are no doubt reaching for their favourite Summer treat; a frozen icy pole in a tube. Last year alone Australian kids consumed over 4,000 tons of sugar just from this frozen fun. Makes you shudder, hey!

These quick and convenient treats (almost every family has them floating around in the freezer somewhere) also contain a dangerous amount of chemicals and additives and the market leader (we wont name names, but you know who they are) sold 10.2m tubes last year. With 2 teaspoons per tube, that’s a lot of sugar!

So enter Melbourne man David Andrew. (He’s from Elwood!) He’s not a dad yet, but he’s a super proud uncle and he is on a mission to help our kids. He wants to remove 500 tons of sugar from Australian kids’ diets every year, without them missing out on any frozen fun!

Ironically I met with Dave the morning after Halloween, so the full effect of sugar and kids was fresh in my mind after a big night of ‘trick or treating’ and I was keen to hear more about his mission. He was bursting with enthusiasm and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he told me about his two businesses; Naked Life Sparkling and Sugar Free-zies. Clearly this was a man incredibly proud of what he was doing for families across Australia.

While working as the General Manager at sugar replacement company Natvia, Dave’s partner (who is fructose intolerant) often complained she couldn’t drink her favourite drinks (aka gin and tonic) when she was out and about (aka some Melbourne bar!). Most sugar-free soft drink alternatives had a bad taste and chemicals to boot and he knew there was a massive gap in the market here for quality sugar-free alternatives. So in 2016 he poured all of his life savings and passion into starting Naked Life Sparkling, a guilt-free soft drink range naked from sugar, artificial sweeteners and nasties.

Naturally (pardon the pun), due to their quality and natural ingredients, they kicked off, with both adults and kids loving them. Dave started receiving lots of positive feedback from parents who were giving his soft drinks to their kids and loving his products, but they were also calling out for other healthy alternatives for their kids. It was then, after looking after his nephews and niece, he discovered there were no healthy alternatives for frozen treats and the Sugar Free-zies idea was born. Everyone has a nostalgic childhood memory of an icy sweet treat on a hot summer’s day, so he knew this was the perfect place to start. It’s taken two years and a whole lot of love in developing Australia’s first Aussie made and owned, sugar-free 100% natural icy pole but they are finally here and Dave is very proud! And he’s winning uncle of the year status while he’s at it!

But making a treat sugar free wasn’t enough for Dave. They needed to taste amazing, because kids won’t eat something with an inferior taste to their sugary competitors. It was also important to him that they contained no artificial colours or flavours, no artificial preservatives or thickeners and they had to be manufactured right here in Melbourne. This involved sourcing expensive manufacturing equipment from the US, because no one had the machinery here, but outsourcing manufacturing overseas simply wasn’t a quality sacrifice Dave was willing to make.

We know parents today still want to be able to treat their children, but at the same time they are well-educated on the negative effects sugar and artificial preservatives can have on their health. Dave is creating a solution to this!

Committed to the cause, he’s also started The No Nasties Icicle Project which pledges to donate $100 for every one-ton of sugar removed through his sales to a selection of not-for-profits, driving awareness around better food choices in Australia.

Last year Australian kids consumed over 4,000 tons of sugar in frozen icy-tubes alone.

A recent study commissioned by Sugar Free-zies and delivered by ORC International found 70% of Australians surveyed strongly agree that being free from sugar, artificial preservatives and additives is an important purchasing decision. Despite this, the sugar icy treats category in Australia continues to rise, with leading brands receiving a 21.4% year on year growth without any healthy alternatives in the Australian market until now.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of positive responses from Australian parents since Sugar Free-zies have been in production, it’s phenomenal! The first word I hear from everyone’s mouth is, finally!” says Dave. Mama couldn’t agree more.

Here are some of Dave’s key tips to help reduce your family’s sugar intake:

Watch for the “No Added Sugar” marketing trap. “No Added Sugar” can still contain a huge proportion of sugar through natural fruit sugars! Careful of natural sugars like dates, agave and  dried fruits. They sound nice and healthy but they are still sugar.

Sauces – keep an eye out for tomato and bbq sauces that are packed with sugar! – There are quite a few brands with no added sugar around now so look for them instead!

Muffins and banana bread – These are sugar bombs! Swap with a savoury option.

Juice – You wouldn’t eat 4 oranges because you’d feel sick – but that’s what’s in a cup of juice… as well as the same amount of sugar as a Coke! – Eat wedges of orange instead!

Chocolate – Dark Chocolate instead of lollies (still as a treat).

Yoghurt – Low fat yoghurt is usually full of sugar. Use unsweetened and add your own fruit.

Ice cream – Eat it and enjoy it! (but use it as education that it is a really really special treat!)

You can find Sugar Free-zies at Woolworths and all major independent supermarkets nationally.