EDMONTON (December 6th, 2017) – The Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP), a coalition of prominent health organizations, is renewing its call for a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Alberta in light of new research highlighting potential health and economic benefits.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, which include beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks, are a significant source of added sugar in the diet. They offer virtually no health benefits and have been linked to serious chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity (1-3). Despite negative health impacts, sugar-sweetened beverages in Alberta are relatively inexpensive, widely available and marketed by industry.
According to data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey, the average Albertan drinks almost 250 ml of sugar-sweetened beverages per day (4), which is significantly higher than the Canadian average.
To level the playing field and reduce consumption of these drinks, the APCCP is calling on the Government of Alberta to implement a 50 cent per litre levy on sugar-sweetened beverages.
New research from the University of Waterloo, commissioned by the APCCP and leading national health organizations, suggests the benefits of a 50 cent per litre levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Alberta could be substantial.
According to the research, over the next 25 years a 20% levy (equivalent to 50 cents per litre) in Alberta could postpone 1,200 deaths in the province, as well as prevent:
- 61,300 cases of overweight and obesity
- 21,700 cases of type 2 diabetes
- 5,700 cases of ischemic heart disease
- 2,100 cancer cases
- 750 stroke cases
The research also indicates that over 25 years, a 20% levy could help Albertans live healthier, happier lives by averting around 46,200 disability-adjusted life years.
In terms of economic benefits, a 20% levy is projected to produce almost $1.1 billion in health care savings and $3.5 billion in tax revenue over the same period.
Many jurisdictions around the world, including Finland, France, Mexico and cities in the United States (e.g. Berkley, Philadelphia), have implemented a levy or tax on these drinks (5, 6). Prominent health organizations, including the World Health Organization, Dietitians of Canada, Heart & Stroke and Diabetes Canada, have also endorsed a levy (7-10). Among Canadian jurisdictions, the Government of the NWT recently announced plans to investigate the introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax by 2018-2019 (11).
Given the evidence and global momentum building on this issue, it is time for the Government of Alberta to seriously consider a levy on these drinks in Alberta. In addition to reducing consumption, revenue generated from a levy could help safeguard vital health promotion initiatives in the province during challenging economic times.
The commissioned research used simulation modelling to estimate the potential health and economic benefits of a levy in Alberta. It was carried out at the University Waterloo by Amanda C. Jones and Dr. David Hammond.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are harmful to Albertans’ health, yet they remain relatively inexpensive, widely available and aggressively marketed by industry. A levy on sugar-sweetened beverages could help level the playing field by nudging Albertans towards healthier alternatives.
-Karen Boyd, Regional Executive Director, Dietitians of Canada, Alberta and the Territories
A levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Alberta has the potential to reduce death, disability and health care costs, while also generating significant revenue for health promotion initiatives in the province.
-Kate Chidester, Vice President, Advocacy, Health and Research, Heart & Stroke, Alberta, NWT and Nunavut
Evidence on the potential health and economic benefits of a sugar-sweetened beverages levy is growing globally. It’s time for the Province of Alberta to stop ignoring this important issue.
-Dr. Kim Raine, APCCP Co-Lead, Scientific Director, Centre for Health & Nutrition, Professor and Associate Dean (Research), School of Public Health, University of Alberta
- Dr. Kim Raine, APCCP Co-Lead, Scientific Director, Centre for Health & Nutrition, Professor and Associate Dean (Research), School of Public Health, University of Alberta
- Kate Chidester, Vice President, Advocacy, Health and Research, Heart & Stroke, Alberta, NWT & Nunavut
- Karen Boyd, Regional Executive Director, Dietitians of Canada, Alberta and the Territories
About the APCCP
The APCCP represents a broad range of practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and community organizations who have come together to coordinate efforts, generate evidence and advocate for policy change to reduce chronic diseases in Alberta. For more information, visit the APCCP website: www.apccp.ca
- Brownell KD, Frieden TR. Ounces of prevention: the public policy case for taxes on sugared beverages. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2009 Apr 30;360(18):1805-8.
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- Canada S. Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) – Nutrition: User Guide. Ottawa: Statistics Canada 2015.
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llyphillipserb/2016/12/19/judg e-dismisses-soda-tax-lawsuit-a gainst-city-of-philadelphia/#5 6e3799156e6.
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- Dietitians of Canada. Sugar-sweetened beverages and taxation. 2016 [cited 2017 January 20]; Available from: http://www.dietitians.ca/Dieti
- Canadian Diabetes Association. Canadian Diabetes Association’s position on sugars. 2017 [cited 2017 January 21st ]; Available from: http://www.diabetes.ca/about-c
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- McLeod C. Budget address 2017-2018 Northwest Territories. Government of Northwest Territories 2017 [cited 2017 June]; Available from: http://www.gov.nt.ca/newsroom/
news/robert-c-mcleod-budget-ad dress-2017-2018-northwest-terr itories.