Juice boxes to chocolate milk: how sugary drinks could be harming your family

It’s no secret that foods high in sugar can lead to excess weight gain and obesity, increasing the risk of cancer and several chronic diseases. But the sugar we drink is often overlooked. From fruit juices to energy drinks to flavoured water, many beverages that we consume contain staggering amounts of sugar.

The recommended daily sugar maximum is no more than 10% of daily calories. For an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, 10% is about 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugar. However, in 2015, Canadians far exceeded that. Most troubling, young people are drinking the largest amount of sugary beverages, averaging 578 ml of sugary drinks every day. These drinks can contain up to 64 grams or 16 teaspoons of sugar. This puts them well over the recommended daily sugar maximum.

These drinks are having a significant negative impact on our health. In partnership with Heart & Stroke, Diabetes Canada, Childhood Obesity Foundation and the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society has commissioned new research that reveals the consumption of sugary drinks will result in over 63,000 deaths and cost the healthcare system more than $50 billion over the next 25 years.

Other negative health effects of overconsumption of sugary drinks will include more than 100,000 cases of cancer and almost 2.2 million disability-adjusted life years (the number of years of healthy life lost due to ill health, disability or early death.)

“Sugary drinks are the single largest contributor of sugar in the average Canadian diet,” says Robert Nuttall, Assistant Director, Health Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. “Excess sugar intake is directly linked to excess weight which increases the risk of at least 11 different cancers.”

Protect yourself and your family. Reduce your sugary drink intake by:

  • Drinking water or sparkling water instead.
  • Replacing sugary drinks with diluted fruit juice or infused water to gradually cut back.
  • Read nutrition labels to help you avoid both foods and drinks high in added sugar. If sugar, glucose, honey, corn syrup, fructose, maltose or dextrose are listed, sugar has been added. If one of these is near the top of the list, the product is high in added sugar.

The new research has also revealed that a 20% excise levy on the manufacturers of sugary drinks will result in more than 13,000 lives saved, save the health care system more than $11.5 billion and bring in $43.6 billion in revenue over the next 25 years. The excise levy will prevent more than 20,000 cases of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society joins over 20 organizations nationwide calling for the introduction of a manufacturer’s levy on sugary drinks with revenue going towards healthy living initiatives as part of a comprehensive approach.

To read the full press release on the negative impacts of sugary drinks, please click here.

To read the full press release on the impact of a sugary drink levy, please click here.

Find more tips to cut down on sugar here.