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Could a tax on sugary drinks fizzle out consumption?

A recent study by the University of Waterloo looked at the possible benefits of a sugary drink tax in Canada.

Flo Sheppard, a dietician with Northern Health, says things like pop and energy drinks are having a negative impact on our eating habits.

“All of those drinks have very little nutrition in them as well as adding challenges. We are filling up on them but we’re not compensating on how we eat so it’s not supporting us to become competent eaters.”

According to the study, a tax could save 13,000 lives and reduce cases of obesity and illness among Canadians. A 20% tax on pop, energy drinks and fruit juices could mean $11.5 billion dollars in health care savings.

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Sheppard adds BC is proactive on the issue surrounding sugary drinks at schools across the province. “In BC, we have guidelines for the sale of food and beverages in provincial schools that they can use to implement and impact what types of beverages are available at schools.”

While sugar has come under fire for the negative health impacts it has, Sheppard believes there are some situations where getting a sugar-fix can be ok.

“Some sugar is important as it is a source of energy in our diet but perhaps we might want to save it or use it more for add-ons to food such as the maple syrup on our pancakes.”

According to Sheppard, the beverage of choice should always be water. She adds the drink can be more appealing to people if some elements are added to the mix.

“There are ways we can jazz up water. If you’re used to the sugary flavoured ways of drinking you can put in things like cucumber slices, slices of orange, grated ginger, chunks of melon or pineapple into water or even gradually watering down one of those sugary sweetened beverages or 100% pure fruit juice with more water.”

$40 billion dollars in government revenue would also be generated from a potential tax.

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