According to new study commissioned by leading health organizations Canadians are consuming high amounts of sugary drinks and if this continues, the consequences to our health and the healthcare system will be devastating. Most troubling, young people drink the largest amount of sugary beverages.
The study from the University of Waterloo reveals that sugary drink consumption is projected to result in over 63,000 deaths and cost the healthcare system more than $50 billion over the next 25 years. It is estimated that sugary drink consumption in Canada will be responsible for:
- More than 1 million cases of overweight and more than 3 million cases of obesity
- Almost 1 million cases of type 2 diabetes
- Almost 300,000 Canadians with ischemic heart disease
- More than 100,000 cases of cancer
- Almost 40,000 strokes
- Almost 2.2 million disability-adjusted life years (the number of years of healthy life lost due to ill health, disability or early death.)
In 2015 Canadians purchased an average of 444 ml of sugary drinks per day. That is more than the equivalent of one can of pop per person, per day, every day. The average youth drinks 578 ml of sugary drinks each day which can contain up to 16 teaspoons or 64 grams of sugar. This puts them well over the recommended daily sugar maximum of no more than 10% of total daily calories.
Although pop sales have been decreasing over the years, the research uncovered staggering growth in sales of newer products that offset these reductions:
- Energy drinks +638%
- Sweetened coffees +579%
- Flavoured water +527%
- Drinkable yogurt +283%
- Sweetened teas +36%
- Flavoured milk +21%
- Sports drinks +4%.
Consuming too much sugar is a significant risk factor for overweight and obesity and several chronic diseases. Overconsumption of sugary drinks is an independent risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes regardless of weight status. Tackling the health effects of sugary drinks requires a comprehensive approach including ensuring access to safe and free water, restricting food and beverage marketing to children, public education, better food labelling, revisions to Canada’s Food Guide, and levers to make unhealthy choices less attractive and healthy choices more affordable.