Canadian Diabetes Association Calls for Sugary Drinks Tax

Becky McCall

September 07, 2015

A tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will help combat type 2 diabetes, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), which called for the government of Canada to introduce such a charge and use the revenues generated to promote the health of Canadians.

They also seek support from various federal parties in the upcoming election this October.

"Evidence-based studies conclusively demonstrate that excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages directly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes," said Rick Blickstead, president and CEO of the CDA.

"The CDA wants diabetes to be part of the national election debate — including a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, establishment of a national pharmacare program, and extension of the disability tax credit to Canadians of all ages living with type 1 diabetes," Blickstead continued.

"These measures will both help prevent...diabetes and support those with the disease live to their full potential."

In its position statement, the CDA recommends that Canadians limit intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total daily calorie intake. This is approximately 50 g (12 tsps) of free sugars per day, based on a 2000-calorie daily diet. It advises replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water.

Canada has seen a doubling in prevalence of diabetes, from 1.3 million to 2.5 million people, between the years 2000 to 2010. Today, more than one in four Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes, and if no action is taken, it is estimated that almost one in three people will have diabetes by 2020. The disease and its complications are expected to cost the Canadian economy $14 billion in 2015.

The CDA says a number of studies, including one published in the journal Circulation in June, as reported by Medscape Medical News, estimate that sugary drinks were linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide per year, of which 133,000 were from type 2 diabetes.

With respect to Canada specifically, the study estimated that 68.1 deaths per million were attributable to sugary drinks, which translates to 2452 deaths annually.

Another meta-analysis has calculated that the risk for diabetes associated with high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is 1.30 times that asociated with low consumption; and evidence from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer–InterAct study, which included eight European countries, showed that even one 12-oz sugar-sweetened soft drink daily was associated with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The CDA also cites how a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in Mexico, France, Hungary, and Finland lowered consumption. Reductions were 10%, 3.1%, 6%, and 3.1%, respectively, in these countries after the introduction of such a tax.

CDA press release. September 3, 2015. Full text

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