This is an updated version of the Canadian Beverage Association media release regarding the WHO interim report on ending childhood obesity dated March 20, 2015.
January 25, 2016 (Toronto) – The Canadian Beverage Association (CBA) notes the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Report of the Commission on Ending Child Obesity today. CBA supports the Commission’s effort to meaningfully address childhood obesity and many of the general policy recommendations.
In regard to taxation, however, beverages in Canada are already taxed through provincial and/or federal sales taxes. Further to this, no significant public health impact has been achieved through taxation on certain foods. Many researchers have already concluded that selective taxes — such as a soft drinks tax ─ do not effectively modify consumption patterns and are regressive.
Over a decade before the WHO recommendations in the report, CBA adopted and implemented guidelines regarding beverages available for sale to students in elementary schools. In 2009/2010, members completed the expansion of these guidelines to address the sale of beverages to students in middle and high schools.
In addition, CBA members adhere to global marketing standards that prevent marketing of beverages other than water, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and milk to children under the age of 12. Many beverage companies also participate in the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which further limits marketing to children. The success rate of these programs is 100% in almost all categories.
Additional information and background:
- A recent BMJ study (formerly British Medical Journal) estimates that the drop in caloric intake due to the tax is extremely minimal – about 4.7 calories per day in an average diet of 3,025 calories per day.
- Another study shows that caloric consumption in Mexico has only decreased by six calories per day.
- In Mexico, people consume 90 litres more sugar-sweetened beverages per person, per year, than Canadians.
- In 2011, Denmark enacted a tax on certain products, but abandoned it a little over a year later. Not only did the tax increase the cost of goods dramatically, it made no significant impact on individuals’ consumption habits, obesity or health.
- In the United States, states that have had excise taxes on soft drinks such as West Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee continue to rank in the top 10 most-obese states. US states such as Colorado and Vermont, which have no soda tax, rank amongst the least obese states.
- The beverage tax in France is on all beverages, including no- and low-calorie soft drinks, and is not specifically aimed at calorie reduction. It was noted in the French Senate that this tax was implemented to generate revenue.
 Williams R and Christ K. “Taxing Sins: Are Excise Taxes Efficient?” Mercatus on Policy 52 (2009): 1-4. http://www.mercatus.org/PublicationDetails.aspx?id=27272
 Based on research presented by Monique Potvin Kent, PhD, Professor, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa at the 2014 CDPAC conference the beverage industry has reduced their advertising on children’s television stations to zero. According to 2012 compliance numbers measured by Canada Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, as an industry we are at:
- 99% compliance for TV advertising
- 100% for print advertising
- 100% for internet advertising
- 100% compliance for company-owned 3rd party websites and video
 National Soft Drinks Association (ANPRAC).
 The study that references a decrease in consumption looks only at the three months after the tax was instituted. Having hoarded products before the introduction of the tax, consumption levels returned to normal after the three months. http://health.spectator.co.uk/revisionists-are-trying-to-turn-denmarks-failed-fat-tax-into-a-great-success-dont-be-fooled/
 The State of Obesity: Obesity trends and policy analysis, “States with the Highest Obesity Rates,” http://stateofobesity.org/lists/highest-rates-adult-obesity/ (Accessed 13 Jan. 2015)