Taxing sugar to help control obesity
By Samantha Wigfield
A study was recently released by health advocates on how to combat the obesity epidemic in Canada, involving a potential hike in sugar products.
Following in the footsteps of Mexico, the Canadian Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee has outlined how to reduce the obesity problem in the study, including taxing food and drinks that contain added sugar up to 20 per cent.
Melissa Alexander-Dionisi, manager of patient food services and clinical nutrition at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette Campus said while a sugar tax could be the right step, it will most likely only have a small impact on the obesity epidemic.
“Sugar is kind of like smoking. If there’s some kind of addiction to it, it (the tax) at first will probably defer people from purchasing it. However, if they truly want it, they’re still going to buy it,” said Alexander-Dionisi.
The senate also suggests the outdated Canada’s Food Guide should be revised, banning food and beverage advertisements to children and increased awareness of the potential harmful side effects of processed foods.
The report also said since 1980, obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in children. There are 48,000 to 66,000 deaths every year due to excess weight in Canada, which in turn, costs the healthcare system 4.6 to 7.1 billion dollars a year.
Some feel the taxing sugar is the wrong way to go, like local mother of three, Sherry Hearns.
“If people want it, then they want it. Taxing sugar won’t stop people from buying it, it just means they can buy less of it. I think if they want to fix the problem, they should ban excess sugar,” said Hearns.
Alexander-Dionisi said being overweight or obese can lead to many health-related problems later in life, such as heart disease and diabetes. She also said it’s not just sugar that makes people gain weight but also sedentary lifestyles and willingness to eat something that’s readily available opposed to something people have to prepare themselves.