A 20 per cent tax on companies that make sugary drinks could help save more than 13,000 lives over the next 25 years, according to a University of Waterloo study released Thursday.
It would also save $11.5 billion on health-care spending and bring in $43.6 billion in government revenue.
"We know Canadians – including our children – are consuming too much sugar and sugary drinks in particular are harming our health," said Mary Lewis of the Heart and Stroke Foundation in a release.
"These products are not essential groceries, providing little to no nutritional value, and a levy is one proven way to help reduce consumption and support healthy living initiatives
In 2015, the average Canadian youth consumed 578 millilitres of sugary drinks each day — or approximately one-and-a-half standard pop cans.
If sugary drink manufacturers were taxed, researchers estimate it would prevent:
- 600,000 cases of obesity
- 200,000 cases of type 2 diabetes
- 60,000 cases of ischemic heart disease
- 20,000 cases of cancer
- 8,000 strokes
In light of the report's findings, nearly two dozen organizations, including Diabetes Canada, the Childhood Obesity Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society, have endorsed a call to action for Canadian government to tax sugary drinks.
In October, the World Health Organization called for global action against sugary drink consumption. The organization suggested not only taxing unhealthy foods, but subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables as much as 10 to 30 per cent.
The U.K. announced in 2016 that it would tax drinks with more sugar than five grams per 100 millilitres, and some soda companies have already begun to reduce the amount of sugar in their offerings, according to CNN.
Mexico, France, and Norway are among countries that have implemented a sugar tax, as well as cities in the U.S. like Philadelphia.
In Canada, the Northwest Territories has proposed a pop tax that could be implemented as early as next year.