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Toronto, Ontario - October 23, 2012 - The Canadian Beverage Association believes that the Ontario Medical Association's call for taxation, labelling and restrictions on food and beverage products is doing a disservice to Canadians by focusing on a shame and blame strategy rather than focusing on education and information.
Research shows that Canadians want education not taxation or restrictions.
We believe that Canadian families are entitled to accurate, science-based information about the causes and potential solutions for obesity and obesity-related issues and we are committed to working with the federal and provincial governments as well as other partners to help identify solutions appropriate for the Canadian marketplace.
The Canadian beverage industry recognizes that childhood obesity is a complex issue and no one single food or beverage is uniquely responsible. We also recognize that that it will not be solved with limited or stopgap initiatives. Health Canada states that "Many factors have contributed to the increasing rates of overweight and obesity. Changes in society, work and leisure have affected activity and eating patterns, leading to a rise in overweight and obesity." Health Canada further notes that "The factors associated with overweight and obesity are complex, and include health behaviours, such as eating habits and daily physical activity, and broader social, environmental and biological determinants that influence these health behaviours."
According to a Canadian Community Health Survey (Statistics Canada) soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, such as fruit drinks, account for only 3.9 per cent of calories in the Canadian diet and of that 3.9 per cent only 2.5 per cent came from the consumption of soft drinks.
Calories from soft drinks are playing less and less of a role in Canadians' diet. The 2011 Statistics Canada report, Food Statistics , identified that between 1999 and 2011 consumption of soft drinks in Canada decreased by approximately 32 per cent yet at the same time obesity rates in Canada continued to rise significantly. No other single fact illustrates the lack of relationship between weight gain and soft drinks as clearly as this statistic.
"We believe one of the keys to impacting obesity lies in education and information rather than through the taxation or restriction of certain foods and beverages," said Jim Goetz, president of the Canadian Beverage Association. "We believe that it is through education that we will impact behaviour and enable Canadians to make the food and beverage choices that are most appropriate for themselves and their families."
When it comes to reducing obesity, 91 per cent of Canadians feel that governments, the food and beverage industry and health care professionals should all work together and almost 87 per cent believe that the approach to addressing rising obesity rates should be focused on education, not government bans of specific products or taxes on specific products.
The Canadian beverage industry is working to provide Canadians with the tools and products necessary to help make informed decisions about beverage choices for themselves and their families. Some of the concrete steps taken in this regard include:
Clear on Calories, a front of pack caloric labeling initiative designed to help Canadians understand the caloric content and serving size of the beverages they are choosing. It is currently rolling out across the country.
Industry Guidelines for the Sale of Beverages in Schools: completed in 2009, this commitment removed full-calorie soft drinks and provided more lower-calorie, nutritious, and smaller-portion beverage options in elementary, middle and secondary schools nationwide.
Marketing to Children: our members have committed to global marketing standards that prevent marketing of beverages - other than fruit juice, milk and water - in paid programming targeted to children under the age of 12. In addition, many beverage companies participate in the Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which further limits marketing to children.
The Canadian Beverage Association is the national trade association representing the broad spectrum of brands and companies that manufacture and distribute the majority of non-alcoholic liquid refreshment beverages in Canada.
For more information, please visit our website www.canadianbeverage.ca
Canadian Beverage Association