Education not Taxation to Combat the Complex Issue of Obesity
The Canadian Beverage Association agrees that obesity is a complex health issue. We feel that the solutions to this issue lie in education and in offering Canadians the tools and products necessary to help make informed decisions and choices. We do not agree that the solution lies in advocating the punitive taxation of specific products such as beverages.
No one single food or beverage can be held responsible for weight gain. In fact, the Canadian government looked at fats, carbohydrates, protein and fibre in the diet and concluded that “it is not what you eat, but rather, how much – the total number of calories consumed – that significantly contributes to obesity”.
“The Canadian Beverage Association feels that focusing on a declining source of calories in Canadians’ diets is a misguided approach that distracts from meaningful solutions that promote healthier diets overall, as well as increased physical activity,” said Jim Goetz, President, Canadian Beverage Association. “Given that the beverage industry offers a wide variety of hydration options including no and low calorie beverages, we feel that this is a tax grab disguised as a public policy recommendation.”
The 2011 Statistics Canada report, Food Statistics identified that between 1999 and 2011 consumption of soft drinks in Canada decreased by 32% yet at the same time obesity rates in Canada continued to rise. These two points negate any perceived link between the two.
Statistics Canada’s 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition, showed that soft drinks and fruit drinks account for less than 3.9% of the calories in the average Canadian’s diet (soft drinks alone 2.5% and fruit drinks 1.4%). That means over 96% of Canadian’s calories come from other sources. Given the decline in soft drink consumption in the past eleven years and the growing availability of no and low calorie beverages, that number is well below 2%.
Canadian research shows that 87% of Canadians feel that the government should be educating the public about changing their behaviour, not taxing them . The Canadian Beverage Association and its members have undertaken a number of concrete and meaningful actions to responsibly market their products and help promote healthy active lifestyles.
- In February 2011, the industry launched 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 were choosing. This initiative is currently rolling out across the country.
- To further provide parents with more control over what their children consumed throughout the day our members introduced Industry Guidelines for the Sale of Beverages in Schools. Completed in 2009, this commitment removed all soft drinks and provided water and 100% juice in elementary and middle schools. It also removed full-calorie soft drinks from secondary schools and capped caloric content and portion sizes. Energy drinks are not, nor have they ever been, sold by our members in schools.
Marketing of Beverages in Canada
- Canadian Beverage Association 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.