Dietitians of Canada released a position statement on February 9th that recommends an excise tax of at least 10-20% be applied to sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Canada given the negative impact of these products on the health of the population and the viability of taxation as a means to reduce their consumption.
Sugar-sweetened beverages make a substantial contribution to the total sugar intake of Canadians, especially for adolescents, with 7-8% of their total energy intake being from sugar-sweetened beverages. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to having excess weight, obesity and chronic diseases in adults.
About 15% of Canadians’ total daily caloric intake comes from free sugars, which includes all added sugars as well as sugars naturally occurring in honey, syrups and fruit juice. This well exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limit of 10% of daily energy intake. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda can contain up to 40 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar, about 80% of the WHOs recommended limit for the average adult (based on a 2000 kcal diet). Sugar-sweetened beverages include any beverage to which sugars have been added including soft drinks, fruit drinks and energy drinks.
“Seeing higher shelf-prices on these drinks, which is what happens with an excise tax, will be a bigger deterrent for consumers than a sales tax added at the cash register,” explains Kate Comeau, dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. Economic modeling and the results reported to date on the taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico indicate that an excise tax of 10-20% leads to a decline in purchases. Public support for taxation increases when the revenue generated is used to fund public health programs.
“For the greatest impact, we recommend that taxation measures be combined with other policy interventions such as increasing access to healthy foods while decreasing access to unhealthy foods in schools, daycares and recreation facilities” says Comeau. “We also call for restrictions on the marketing of foods and beverages to children and funding to support effective, long term educational initiatives.”
To date, the following organizations have endorsed Dietitians of Canada’s position on taxation and sugar-sweetened beverages:
- Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Canadian Diabetes Association
- Childhood Obesity Foundation
- Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada
- Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems
- BC Healthy Living Alliance
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.