The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) recently announced the recommendation of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in the context of the upcoming federal election. The association believes that this tax might be an effective measure to improve the health of the Canadian population and fight type 2 diabetes.
“Evidence-based studies conclusively demonstrate that excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages directly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. We are calling on federal leaders in this election to make a strong commitment to reduce consumption of SSBs to promote the health of Canadians.” said the CDA President and CEO Rick Blickstead in a press release.
SSBs contain considerable quantities of added sugar and are poor in terms of nutritional value. These include sweetened iced teas, non-diet pop, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks and blended coffee drinks.
CDA’s recommendation for a tax on SSBs is based on several scientific evidence showing that a high consumption of SSBs increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes, a condition characterized by inappropriately elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy. A study in particular revealed that in Canada, 68.1 deaths per million people are linked to sugary drinks, resulting in an estimate of 2,452 deaths every year.
In January 2014, Mexico implemented a 10% tax to sugary drinks that resulted in a decrease of 6% in their purchase. This decrease was even greater (9%) among low-income communities, where the risk of developing diabetes is known to be higher. Other countries have also adopted similar taxes and saw a decline in SSBs consumption, namely Hungary (6% decline), France and Finland (both a 3.1% decline).
Already in 2007, the federal Standing Committee on Health reported that “The link between obesity and the increased consumption of sweetened drinks is particularly disturbing. It has been estimated that sugary drinks may be responsible for as much as one pound per month weight gain in adolescents.” This association together with the increased diabetes risk led the CDA to emphasize the negative impact exerted by SSBs on the health status of the population.
“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. These measures will both help prevent type 2 diabetes and support those with the disease live to their full potential.” concluded Blickstead.
The prevalence of diabetes in 2000 was estimated to be 1.3 million people in Canada, and it almost doubled in 10 years reaching an estimate of 2.5 million people in 2010. It is believed that in 2020, 1 in every 3 Canadians will have diabetes.