Sugary drinks levy good for Canadians, say health organizations

Canadian Vending
March 16, 2017
By Canadian Vending
Toronto – New research by the University of Waterloo commissioned by health organizations suggests an excise levy on companies that produce sugary drinks would go far in reducing death, disability and health-care costs.

"The report adds to the growing body of international evidence that supports the health and economic benefits of a sugary drink levy," Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society said in a joint news release.

The research expands on a recent analysis that projected sugary drink consumption among Canadians and the resulting health and economic impacts, by estimating the benefit of a levy on sugary drinks. According to the study, over the next 25 years, a 20 per cent excise levy on the manufacturers of sugary drinks will result in more than 13,000 lives saved and will prevent many cases of obesity, overweight, type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, cancer; and strokes.

A number of health organizations have proposed an excise levy on sugary drinks to the federal government for consideration in the upcoming federal budget. This approach would raise revenue for much needed healthy living initiatives that will benefit the health of Canadians.

The health groups emphasize that a levy is not the only solution to the issue of excess weight and the overall health of Canadians. However, given that Canadians are drinking an unhealthy amount of sugary drinks, a levy is a critical component of a broader strategy to promote healthy eating and drinking. This includes restricting marketing to kids, improving food and menu labeling, providing better access to affordable healthy foods and water, increasing food literacy and preparation skills, as well as public education.

The organizations say recent experience from different countries shows that supporting healthy choices through directed taxes helps decrease consumption of unhealthy products and improves overall health.

The report cites examples of the successful implementation of sugary drink levies in Mexico, France, Hungary, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Chile, Barbados, and several areas in the United States, noting that in Mexico, purchases of taxed beverages have decreased over two consecutive years and purchases of healthy beverages are up.

Both phases of this research were commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, Diabetes Canada and Heart & Stroke. The research was carried out at the University of Waterloo by Amanda C. Jones, Dr. J. Lennert Veerman and Dr. David Hammond.

Read the full report.

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