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A recent Nanos poll* commissioned by Diabetes Canada found that more than two-thirds of Canadians support or somewhat support a tax on manufacturers of sugary drinks.

Because of the adverse health impacts of consuming as little as one to two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages a day, Diabetes Canada called upon the federal government to impose a levy on manufacturers of sugary drinks. This levy can help encourage Canadians to reduce their consumption of sugary beverages while also funding healthy living initiatives.

“It is encouraging that a majority of the poll respondents are supportive of a tax on the manufacturers of sugary drinks,” says Russell Williams, vice-president of Government Relations and Public Policy at Diabetes Canada. “We need to make every effort to put an end to the increased incidence of the diabetes epidemic using multiple policy changes, including a tax on the manufacturers of sugary drinks.”

Nearly 90 per cent of Canadians polled say there is too much sugar in products such as pop, flavoured coffees and sports drinks. An average can of soda contains more than 10 teaspoons of sugar, while an iced cappuccino can contain 13 teaspoons – more than the recommended total daily amount of sugar.[1]

92 per cent of Canadians feel that we consume too many such beverages. And they’re right – a 2017 study by the University of Waterloo found that, in 2015, Canadians purchased an average of 444 ml of sugary drinks per person per day.[2]

Sugary drinks are a significant driver of chronic disease and obesity. Evidence links excess sugar intake and sugary drinks, with harmful health effects including obesity, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, dental caries, and certain types of cancer.[3]  

“Diabetes is a serious epidemic and our federal government needs to play an important role in helping Canadians live healthier lives, including more education about the harmful impact of sugary drinks, especially with young people,” says Emily Johnson, who lives with diabetes, is a nurse diabetes educator, and advocate. “I support efforts to encourage consumers to make healthier choices such as implementing a tax on manufacturers and using funds to support healthy initiatives in our communities.”

This may explain why more than two in three Canadians support or somewhat support a tax on sugary beverage manufacturers. When asked their level of support for a tax on manufacturers of sugary beverages majority of Canadians support (46%) or somewhat support (21%) the tax, while three in ten oppose (21%) or somewhat oppose (nine per cent) it. Three per cent are unsure.

Support for a tax on manufacturers of sugary drinks rises to just under two in three Canadians who say they would be more likely to support it if revenues from that tax are used to fund health initiatives. While many Canadians are skeptical that this will reduce consumption, the experience of countries who have implemented shows they work. For example, Mexico saw a 12 per cent reduction in consumption in the first year.

* On behalf of Diabetes Canada, Nanos Research conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between August 30 and September 1, 2017 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Learn more about the survey here.

Sugary Drink Health Organization Partnership

Diabetes Canada is also collaborating with other leading health organizations calling for a levy on sugary drinks. Canadian Cancer Society, Childhood Obesity Foundation and Heart & Stroke join in these efforts to see policy change to reduce sugary drink consumption in Canada. Earlier this year, the group released new research about sugary drink consumption and the impact of a levy on these products.

About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

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