In response to Supersize Pop Ban May Gain Legs (The Daily News, Sept.17), the Canadian Beverage Association believes that education not restrictions will empower Canadians to make the food and beverage choices that are appropriate for them and their families.
No single food or beverage causes weight gain or obesity – weight gain is an imbalance of calories consumed verses expended. It is misguided and inaccurate to suggest that targeting and restricting a single product, a product’s size or category will successfully impact the issue of obesity.
According to recent research 86 per cent of Canadians feel governments should be educating the public in order to change its behaviour, not taxing or restricting them and 92 per cent said when it comes to reducing obesity government, the food/beverage industry and health-care professionals should all work together.
It is also important to recognize that Canada isn’t the United States. According to Statistics Canada soft drinks consumption has declined by 32 per cent over the past 12 years while the obesity rate has continued to rise. No other single fact illustrates the lack of relationship between weight gain and soft drinks as clearly as this statistic.
In Canada, a 16-oz. cup equates to 473 ml which is slightly larger than the 355 ml can and yet smaller than the 591 ml bottle sold in most vending machines. The limited scope of the ban will impact its effectiveness — locations serving food such as restaurants and movie theatres will be impacted but convenience store, such as 7-Eleven and their Big Gulp, won’t be.
The ban will cover full sugar soft drinks and teas but will not impact lattes, milkshakes, alcohol or other high-calorie beverages. As a result a 591-ml soft drink with 260 calories won’t be allowed but a large 591-ml café mocha with whipped cream at 410 calories will be.
It is through education rather than restrictions that Canadians will become empowered to make the food and beverage choices that are appropriate for them. In order to make these choices Canadians need access to reliable and factual information and tools.
To this end, the Canadian Beverage Association and its members have under taken a number of concrete and meaningful actions to educate consumers on their products and help promote balanced active lifestyles.
* Clear on Calories, a front of pack caloric labelling initiative designed to help Canadians understand the caloric content and serving size of the beverages they are choosing. It is currently rolling out across the county.
* Industry Guidelines for the Sale of Beverages in Schools: Completed in 2009, this commitment removed full-calorie soft drinks and provided more lower-calorie, nutritious, and smaller-portion beverage options in elementary, middle and secondary schools nationwide.
* Marketing to Children — Our members have committed to global marketing standards that prevent marketing of beverages – other than fruit juice, milk and water – in paid programming targeted to children under the age of 12. In addition, many beverage companies participate in the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which further limits marketing to children.
For more information, please visit our website www.canadianbeverage.ca
President, Canadian Beverage Association