Will a sugary drinks levy benefit Canadians? New research says yes.
Research indicates over the next 25 years a levy would save thousands of lives and contribute to $11.5 billion in health care savings
March 16, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – New research by the University of Waterloo commissioned by leading health organizations reveals an excise levy on companies that produce sugary drinks would go far in reducing death, disability, and health care costs. This adds to the growing body of international evidence that supports the health and economic benefits of a sugary drink levy.
This new 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:
- More than 600,000 cases of obesity and almost 100,000 cases of overweight among Canadian adults;
- Up to 200,000 cases of type 2 diabetes;
- More than 60,000 cases of ischemic heart disease;
- More than 20,000 cases of cancer; and
- More than 8,000 strokes.
In addition to reducing adverse health impacts, a 20 per cent levy over the next 25 years will account for $11.5 billion in health-care savings and government revenue of $43.6 billion ($1.7 billion per year). A direct benefit to Canadians’ health is also projected —with almost 500,000 disability-adjusted life years (number of healthy life years lost due to ill health, disability or early death) being prevented if a 20 per cent sugary drink levy was implemented by the federal government.
Recent experience from different countries shows that supporting healthy choices through directed taxes helps decrease consumption of unhealthy products and improves overall health. An example close to home is Canada’s experience around tobacco use. Male lung cancer incidence rates have declined since the 1980s. Changes including modifying package labels, increasing public education, higher taxes, restrictions on advertising and other approaches—all contributed to dramatically decreasing the number of smokers in Canada to an all-time low of 18 per cent, down from 50 per cent in 1956. A growing collection of studies also shows that a levy on sugary beverages decreases consumption. Examples of successful implementation of sugary drink levies are found in Mexico, France, Hungary, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Chile, Barbados, and an expanding list of jurisdictions in the United States (i.e. Berkeley and Philadelphia) among others. In Mexico, purchases of taxed beverages have decreased over two consecutive years and purchases of healthy beverages are up.
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. These include subsidizing vegetables and fruit to make them more affordable for Canadian families; ensuring access to safe drinking water and plain low fat milk in Indigenous communities; providing healthy school lunch programs for Canadian students; introducing public education and awareness including food literacy and skills; and implementing physical activity programs. This call-to-action to introduce a manufacturer’s levy on sugary drinks is endorsed by 25 organizations nationwide.
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 Canadians are drinking an unhealthy amount of sugary drinks, which are the single greatest contributor of sugar in our diets—and a significant driver of chronic disease and obesity, 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.
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.
Click to read the Full Report
MEND is featured in The Province. Read more about how MEND promotes fun, physical play while encouraging them to think about all the small choices that can lead to good health, here.
Dr Warshawski speaks with Simi Sara on CKNW regarding the World Health Orginization’s recommendation to tax sugary drinks. Listen here:
Celebrity chef and health experts stir up excitement around childhood nutrition
Jamie Oliver and Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition identify areas for immediate action
Toronto – October 7, 2016 – British chef/author Jamie Oliver and members of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition and other experts discussed the need for an action plan to overhaul the nutrition landscape in Canada. Acknowledging that there is no “magic bullet” to improve unhealthy diets the panel identified a range of solutions to support Canadian families to make healthy choices. Strategies include restricting food and beverage marketing to kids, implementing a levy on sugary beverages to fund healthy living initiatives, improved nutrition labeling, ensuring healthy choices in schools and other settings, investing in Indigenous food programs, and better food education.
Jamie Oliver spoke about the enormity of the food business globally and the urgent need for action around childhood nutrition and obesity. He acknowledged Health Minister Jane Philpott’s clear mandate on restricting marketing to kids and expressed his hope that Canada would seize the opportunity to be a global leader around nutrition policy and action. He pointed out that Canada is on the brink of something huge and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to implement a plan that “can’t be good, it has to be fantastic.”
Panel members included Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing Officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation; Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer, Canadian Diabetes Association; Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chair, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Senator Nancy Greene Raine; and Nathan Sing, youth advocate. The session was moderated by Nick Saul, President and CEO, Community Food Centres Canada.
“It is about healthy habits for everyone. Family meals are important, learning how to cook your own meals and cooking that food together. Making sure you get your fruits and vegetables and physical activity, cutting out sugary drinks, and decreasing screen time – which is so important for marketing to kids.”
“This problem has come on so slowly that we don’t realize the health risks attributable to unhealthy diets are the same as with tobacco. We need the exact same strategies – we need regulation.”
-Tom Warshawski, Chair, Childhood Obesity Foundation
“We know that over 90 per cent of food decisions in the household are driven by children. The “nag factor” does not come out of nowhere – it is driven by marketing messages. It is not a fair fight for parents. Winning the battle for harmony often means losing the battle for health.”
“Industry self-regulation is a failure. The standards are lax, participation is voluntary and there is more advertising and marketing targeted to children than ever before.”
-Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing Officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation
“What has changed our choices is our environment. We live in an environment where we are surrounded by low cost, nutrient poor, processed foods and sugary drinks. We are surrounded by the wrong kind of information, we are surrounded by advertising but we don’t get good food information.”
-Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer, Canadian Diabetes Association
View the panel discussion on the Heart and Stroke Foundation Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/heartandstroke/videos/vb.6319213302/10154196451403303/?type=2&theater¬if_t=live_video¬if_id=1475766477657227
For more information about the coalition visit including a list of partners and endorsers visit www.stopmarketingtokids.ca
Health coalition gives proposed legislation to protect children a gold star
Senator tables public bill to prohibit food and beverage marketing to kids
Ottawa – September 28, 2016 – The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition applauds Senator Nancy Greene Raine for introducing legislation prohibiting food and beverage marketing to children. Click here to review the entire press release.
For more information about the coalition including the Ottawa Principles, visit www.stopmarketingtokids.ca
Read about tips to promote healthy weights for children and families in Dr. Warshawski’s interview with CBC News, here.
Listen to Dr. Warshawski speak with Larry Fedoruk from 610 News Talk in St. Catharines, Ontario about the role parents and primary care physicians can play to promote healthy weights:
Dr. Warshawski speaks with Cherly Chan at the Vancouver Sun about what parents can do to help support and promote healthy weights in their children. Click here to read.
Dr. Warshawski also speaks with CBC News Radio about healthy weights in families. Listen here:
Listen to Dr. Warshawski and Mike Smyth on CKNW talk about a tax on sugary drinks in Canada.
Mark Collison, Director, Government Relations & Health Promotion, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Dr. Tom Warshawski interview with Metro News. Mark and Tom talk about the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition and food and beverage advertising to children. Click here to read the story.
Read Tom’s interview with The National Post, Wednesday July 19th, here. Tom speaks with journalist, Michelle Hauser, about healthy weights, active living for the whole family, sugary drinks and marketing to kids.
On March 29th, the Province of BC announced an additional $2 million dollars of funding for the MEND program.
To read the BC Government News Press Release, please click here.
Click here to read about the MEND announcement from CFJC Today, Everything Kamloops!
Click here to read about this announcement in Kelowna Now.
On March 1st, 2016, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released their comprehensive report titled: Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada. The Senate made 21 recommendations for addressing obesity amongst Canadians; two of these recommendations are the taxation of sugar sweetened beverages and restricting the marketing of food and beverages that target children, youth and teens.
Restricting food and beverage marketing to kids will provide the protection our children deserve, and will support parents to make healthy choices for their families. This aligns with recommendations put forward by the recently launched national Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition, co-led by the Childhood Obesity Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Children are exposed to unprecedented levels of unhealthy marketing in their entertainment, online and recreational activities.
To read the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition Press Release, February 24, 2016, click here.
Listen to Dr. Warshawski chat about the added sugars in beverages and a ban on marketing to kids with Mike Smith on CKNW, February 18, 2016. Do You Know How Much Sugar Is In Your Starbucks Drink?
The BC Government announces funds for the expansion of Shapedown. Click here to read the press release.
Shapedown BC helps families’ health. Listen to the interview on CBC, The Early Edition:
Dr. Warshawski comments on the Select Standing Committee on Finance’s recommendation that a tax on sugary drinks is considered in BC. Click here to read the interview at CKNW.
Listen to Dr. Warshawski speaks with Ian Holmes and Island Radio in Nanaimo by clicking here:
Dr. Warshawski is quoted in a recent article in The Province regarding the recommendation for a possible sugary drink tax. Click here to read the article.
Dr. Chanoine talks about healthy kids and healthy lunches while he addresses a news release by BC Children’s Hospital. To view the news release, please click here. To read Dr. Chanoine’s interview with Simon Druker on News 1130, please click here.
The MEND Program is highlighted in VanCity Buzz this month. Click here to read about MEND and how tot stay healthy and active this fall as kids head back to school.
Check out this blog post about MEND programs in Vancouver by British Columbia Mom by clicking here.
To view our latest M2K webinars, click here.
Dr. Warshawski speaks with Andrew Chang on CBC News Vancouver at 5:00 March 30, 2015.
Click below to listen to this short audio clip from CKNW featuring Dr. Warshawski speaking about the 5-2-1-0 Rule:
Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, MD, FRCPC from the Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit at BC Children”s Hospital talk about sugary foods, salt, sedentary behaviours and how this impacts young children. Click here to listen.
Dr. Tom Warshawski speaks with Sam from CKNW on Family Day in the series titled “Your Health First”, Preventable Healthcare. Click here to listen.
Dr. Warshawski talks about healthy eating and physical activity in children. This interview discusses the use of BMI as a means for determining healthy weights, the 5210 rule and what moderate to vigorous physical activity is. Click here to listen.
MEND helps Chilliwack children and families lead healthier lives! The Chilliwack Division of Family Practice is pleased to support MEND and the Chilliwack Family YMCA. Click here to read about MEND in the Chilliwack and learn about how to register in the program.
Cooler weather shouldn’t mean less physical activity. Follow the link to read Dr. Tom Warshawski”s comments about MEND and Shapedown opportunities in Prince George, published here, in the Prince George Citizen.
Click here to read about the MEND program in the Peninsula News Review. MEND is available through Saanich Parks and Recreation at Colquitz Middle School. In this article, Dr. Tom Warshawski talks about our changing environment and how it is important to be active, avoid sugary drinks and eat healthy starting at an early age.
Dr. Tom Warshawski discusses childhood obesity on the Bill Good Show on CKNW. Listen to the clip here
We are pleased to share this report on our progress with the Childhood Healthy Weights Intervention Initiative. Click here for Our Journey, March 2014.
Dr. Tom Warshawski discusses childhood obesity in Newfoundland and Labrador on VOCM radio. Listen to the clip here
Dr. Tom Warshawski discusses childhood obesity on CFAX radio”s ”Weekend Wellness”. Listen to the clip here
Dr. Tom Warshawski was interviewed for an article discussing the federal government’s responsibility to set sugar limits. Read it here
Click here to read an article featuring MEND in Victoria News
Click here to listen to Dr. Tom Warshawski discuss soda taxes with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Click here to read the joint press release issued by the Childhood Obesity Foundation, BC Recreation and Parks Association and YMCA of Greater Vancouver regarding the MEND program.
Click here to listen to Dr. Warshawski discuss the MEND program
Click here to read an article featuring MEND in the Nanaimo News Bulletin
Click here to read an article featuring MEND in the Campbell River Mirror
Click here to read an article written by Dr. Warshawski featuring MEND in the Prince George Citizen
Click here to listen to Dr. Warshawski”s interview on the Bill Good Show regarding the role of schools in relation to childhood obesity
Click here to listen to Dr. Warshawski”s interview on CKNW AM regarding ”Fat Letters” – letters schools send to parents of obese children
Click here to listen to Dr. Warshawski”s interview with Simi Sara on CKNW regarding the American Medical Association labelling obesity as a ”disease”
Listen to Dr. Warshawski interviewed on CBC”s ”The Current” regarding the book “The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet” here
Last September, the Screen Smart Program was featured on Global BC. Click here to visit the Screen Smart Program website
“Happy teachers and fewer students in BC schools this year”. Read the article published in The Globe and Mail here
“Family Fitness: Why it”s never too soon for kids to start training”. Read the article here
“Road to Olympic Glory should start with physically active children”. Read the article published in The Globe and Mail here
Coming in 2012 from the Childhood Obesity Foundation: The Living Green Healthy and Thrifty (LiGHT) program: LiGHT. This online learning program for youth ages 10-17 and their families can help youth reduce excess body weight by:
* Adopting a healthier lifestyle
* Living more sustainably
* Saving unnecessary personal expenses
This project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed in the LiGHT program do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Check out CBC Live Right Now, a movement to inspire Canada to get healthy. Click here to visit the Live Right Now website.