Pop prices pos­si­bly pop­ping

CMA calls on fed­eral gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment fed­eral ex­cise tax on su­gar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY BETH PENNEY

New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (NLMA) rep­re­sen­ta­tives have pre­sented a res­o­lu­tion to the Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (CMA) gen­eral coun­cil in Que­bec City on tax­ing su­gar sweet­ened bev­er­ages.

The res­o­lu­tion — that the Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion call on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment a fed­eral ex­cise tax on su­gar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages and ar­ti­fi­cially sweet­ened drinks sold in Canada to sub­si­dize health­ier food op­tions — was passed.

NLMA pres­i­dent Dr. Lynn Dwyer pro­posed the mo­tion.

“It’s the free sug­ars that con­cern us,” said Dwyer. “Th­ese free sug­ars are added by the man­u­fac­tur­ers as sweet­en­ers or preser­va­tives.” Free sug­ars can be found in drinks such as soda, fruit juices, yo­gurt drinks and en­ergy drinks.

The NLMA de­cided a tax on th­ese sug­ary drinks would have the most im­pact if it were ap­plied to the man­u­fac­turer at the point of pro­duc­tion, in­stead of be­ing ap­plied to the con­sumer at the cash reg­is­ter.

“As a fam­ily physi­cian, I see the ef­fects of un­healthy di­ets in my prac­tice on a daily ba­sis,” said Dwyer. “We’re hop­ing to pre­vent dis­eases like di­a­betes or heart dis­ease, be­fore they hap­pen, rather than treat­ing them.”

Dwyer told The Telegram that when nat­u­ral sug­ars are con­sumed, in fruit or veg­eta­bles, for ex­am­ple, it takes the body longer to me­tab­o­lize those sug­ars, leav­ing peo­ple feel­ing full.

The free sug­ars in sug­ary drinks are me­tab­o­lized quickly, leav­ing peo­ple feel­ing hun­gry much sooner.

In 2014, Sta­tis­tics Canada re­ported that New­found­land and Labrador had the high­est preva­lence of obe­sity of any Cana­dian province, at about 30 per cent, com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of about 20 per cent.

“We’re hope­ful that an ex­cise tax on su­gar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages might make con­sumers con­sider health­ier choices in their lives,” said Dwyer. “In­stead of their diet hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on their over­all health, it will have a pos­i­tive one.”

BETH PENNEY PHOTO

Store clerk Lisa Fur­long fills the cooler with cans of soft drinks at Clara’s Mini Mart in St. John’s.

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