Education not Taxation to Combat the Complex Issue of Obesity

87% of Canadians feel that government should be educating the public about changing their behaviour, not taxing them1

TORONTO, Feb. 3 /CNW/ - Refreshments Canada responds to the Weight Coalition -- Obesity is a complex issue and experts agree that no single food or beverage can be held responsible for weight gain.  The solution to obesity lies in encouraging a healthy active lifestyle -- not to simply target one product or one sector.

"Trying to link one product to obesity is both simplistic and naive. For example, according to a Statistics Canada report, Food Statistics 2009, Canadian's consumption of soft drinks has declined by 28% in the past ten years yet at the same time obesity rates in Canada have continued to rise significantly2," says Justin Sherwood, president, Refreshments Canada.

There is no scientific consensus when looking for the cause of obesity; indeed, the only consensus that exists is that obesity is a complex problem that is caused by the interplay of many different factors relating to diet and exercise and that no single factor is uniquely to blame.

A study published in Obesity Reviews and funded by the Canadian government, looked at more than 137,000 school-aged children in 34 countries and found no association between soft drink intake and body mass index.In addition a study published by Statistics Canada (October 2009) examined whether an association exists between obesity and the relative percentages of fats, carbohydrates, protein and fibre in the diets, and the authors concluded that "it is not what you eat, but rather, how much - the total number of calories consumed - that significantly contributes to obesity".4

"We also know that taxing one product does not lower obesity rates -  West Virginia and Arkansas are two 'real-world' examples - both have targeted sales taxes on soft drinks, yet according to the US Center for Disease Control they rank fifth and sixth highest in the US for obesity rates. These results are in spite of West Virginia's tax having been in place since the 1950s," continued Sherwood.

Refreshments Canada is the national trade association representing the broad spectrum of brands and companies that manufacture and distribute the majority of non-alcoholic liquid refreshment beverages consumed in Canada.

1 Ipsos Research, January 2011 for Refreshments Canada


3 Janssen I, Katzmarzyk PT, Vereecken C, Mulvihill C, Roberts C, Currie C and Pickett W. Comparison of overweight and obesity prevalence in school-aged youth from 34 countries and their relationships with physical activity and dietary patterns - Obesity Reviews 6 (2005): 123-132.

4 Langlois K, Garriguet D, and Findlay L.  "Diet composition and obesity among Canadian adults" Health Reports (Statistics Canada), October 2009,

SOURCE Refreshments Canada

For further information:

Stephanie Baxter
Senior Director, Communications
Refreshments Canada
Work: (416) 362-2424

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