Health officials are calling sugar the sweet killer. With links to obesity, cancer, and heart disease, overconsumption of sugar is a major concern in the health world.
Canadians on average consume 88 pounds of sugar each year.
The University of Waterloo conducted a study that garnered some frightening statistics. They projected over 25 years, 63,000 deaths will be attributed to drinking sweetened beverages.
This will cost the federal government approximately $50 billion.
In Montreal a motion has passed to ban the sale of sugar sweetened beverages in municipal buildings. This means no vending machine Gatorades at hockey practice or sweet teas at the library.
Last year the Middlesex London Health Unit (LMHU) showcased the facts to city council when vending machine contracts were coming up for renewal. After great debate and councillors speaking out on either side, pop machines stayed but candy machines were given the boot.
Dr. Christopher Mackie is the CEO and Chief Medical Officer at the Middlesex London Health Unit. It was his team that provided evidence to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks. He said that the government should be more engaged.
“I think all levels of government have a degree of responsibility. I think that municipalities absolutely want to be assessing whether they want to be in the business of selling something that’s been linked with diabetes, heart disease, cancer.”
But some are arguing that this step goes beyond public interest, and that personal decisions such as what you consume are shouldn’t be up to the government. Councillor Phil Squire represents Ward 6, and believes that government intervention is a heavy-handed approach.
“I’d rather we put our resources into any education we want to do, but at the end of the day I think people should have their own choice of what they want to do. So I’m not a big fan of banning things.”
Councillor Squire explained that both the LMHU and his contacts from within the beverage industry provided evidence and facts to back their cases. He said the people within the industry are aware that the product is not healthy. More so, the beverage industry’s sales proved that consumers are moving away from these products already.
Ultimately, Councillor Squire believes these choice are up to the individual.
“I think people are really smart and I think people want to make the right choices. But I’d rather have them make them then to have us make them as a government.”
There was no comment if or when this debate would be brought up at London council again. The ban in Montreal is for the sale of these beverages, it does allow for people to bring their own sweet drinks.