EDMONTON – A provincial coalition of prominent health groups is calling on the Premier to establish a levy on sugary drinks to reduce consumption of these unhealthy products and generate revenue for the province.
Sugary drinks, which include soft drinks and energy drinks, are unlike other food and beverages because they offer virtually no nutritional benefits, are empty calories that don’t fully satisfy hunger and are linked to serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes1-6. “Sugar-loaded drinks are placing an enormous burden on our quality of life, our economy and our health care system,” said Rachel Prowse, Registered Dietitian and PhD student at the University of Alberta. “The need for action to reduce consumption of sugary drinks is clear.”
Placing a levy on sugary drinks is a win-win for Alberta. “Not only will a levy reduce consumption of sugar-loaded drinks, it will also generate much needed revenue,” comments Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and member of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP). “Decreased sugary drink consumption has major benefits for Albertans, such as reduced risk of chronic disease, improved quality of life, increased productivity and academic performance for students, as well reduced health care costs.” In terms of revenue generation, a 50 cent/litre consumption levy could generate approximately 158 million annually for the province, assuming a 20% reduction in consumption from taxation7,8.
The APCCP recommends using a portion of the revenue generated from the levy to establish a Wellness Foundation, which would provide sustainable funding for health promotion programs in Alberta. “When the province faces a budget deficit, vital programs aimed at promoting Albertans’ health and wellbeing often risk being cut,” notes Kate Chidester. “A Wellness Foundation would help ensure these programs are available for Albertans when they need them the most.”
According to a recent 2014 survey of the Albertan public, a majority of respondents (57%) support taxing soft drinks and energy drinks.
To arrange an interview: Please contact Kayla Atkey at 780-492-0493.
- Rachel Prowse, Registered Dietitian and PhD student at the University of Alberta
- Kate Chidester, APCCP member and Vice President Health & Research, Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, Heart and Stroke Foundation
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.abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca
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