September 03, 2015

TORONTO, Ont. – This federal election, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) is recommending a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to fight type 2 diabetes and improve the health of Canadians. These beverages include non-diet pop, sweetened iced teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavoured drinks (like fruit punch or vitamin waters) and blended coffee drinks. They contain large amounts of added sugar and are nutrient poor.

Rick Blickstead, CDA President and CEO, says: “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.”  

The CDA’s position on SSBs is based on many peer-reviewed scientific journals, including:

  • A meta-analysis by Wang and colleagues, which estimated that the risk of diabetes associated with high consumption of SSBs is 1.30 times that for low consumption.[i]

  • Evidence from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer-InterAct study that included eight European countries, showed that one 12 oz  sugar-sweetened soft drink daily was associated with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.[ii]

  • SSBs also increase the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) by 22 per cent.[iii]

As well, in June 2015, the scientific journal Circulation published a study estimating that sugary drinks are linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide per year; of these, 133,000 were from diabetes. The study also estimated that in Canada, 68.1 deaths per million were attributable to sugary drinks, translating to 2,452 deaths annually.

A tax on SSBs has reduced consumption in other jurisdictions. For example, Mexico added a 10 per cent tax to drinks containing added sugar in January 2014, and saw a 6 per cent decline in purchases. Reductions were greater (9 per cent) in low-income communities, where the risk of diabetes is higher. Similar consumption declines occurred in France (3.1 per cent), Hungary (6 per cent) and Finland (3.1 per cent) after taxes were introduced.

The CDA’s approach is similar to successful campaigns in Canada and around the world that have lowered smoking rates by changing package labels, increasing education in schools, higher taxes, restrictions on advertising, and other approaches simultaneously contributed to declining tobacco use and decreased numbers of smokers in Canada.  These measures have been a proven success, and smoking rates have declined dramatically.

In 2007, the federal Standing Committee on Health noted 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.”[iv] CDA shares this concern and as part of our mission to prevent type 2 diabetes, we welcome this debate on SSBs.

Rick Blickstead continued: “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.”

About the CDA

The CDA is the registered national charity that helps the more than 10 million Canadians with diabetes or prediabetes live healthy lives, and educates those at risk. In communities across Canada, the CDA:

  • offers a wide array of support services to members of the public;

  • offers resources to health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;

  • advocates to governments, schools, workplaces and others on behalf of people with diabetes; and funds research on better treatments and to find a cure.

Visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

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For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Paul Kilbertus
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications
Canadian Diabetes Association
Phone: 416-408-7083
Cell: 416-886-5187
Paul.Kilbertus@diabetes.ca


[i] Wang M, Yu M, Fang L Ying R. Association between sugar-sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis J Diabetes Invest 2015; 6: 360–366.

[ii] InterAct consortium Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia. 2013;56(7):1520–30.

[iii] Chen L, Hu F, Yeung E, Willett W, Zhang C. Prospective study of pre-gravid sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:2236–41.

[iv] Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids. Report of the Standing Committee on Health, March 2007.