Canadians are once again being told by health experts to cut out the sugary drinks — especially young people.

A University of Waterloo study projects that sugary drink consumption will result in more than 63 thousand deaths over the next 25 years and cost the health-care system more than 50 billion dollars.

Co-author Dr. David Hammond, an associate professor in the university's school of public health and health systems, says cutting back on sugary drinks is one of the best ways to reduce excess calorie intake and maintain a healthy body weight.

Consumption of high-sugar drinks has been linked to weight gain as well as an increased risk of medical conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and stroke, and some cancers.

According to Dr. Martin Bitzan with the Montreal Children’s Hospital, one reason for high consumption could be that sugar isn't only found in soft drinks. Sugar is also found in drinks that are marketed to be healthy.

“Something that is marketed as energy or sports drinks creates a positive image but in fact it is sugar plus caffeine plus a few other things,” he said.

A statement on the website of the Canadian Beverage Association argues: It's illogical to isolate one single ingredient or product as a unique contributor to diseases like obesity. 

However, Dr. Bitzan argues sugar is one of the main causes of obesity. 

“When someone says I want to lose weight I don’t say eat less I say cut out everything that is liquid sugar,” he said. 

Montreal City Councilor Marvin Rotrand would like to see a tax on sugary drinks in order to discourage consumption. 

“Two things happen,” said Rotrand. “Some people don't buy them anymore, they buy something else. Second of all it gives us more money that we can use for good causes.”

In 2015, Canadians purchased a daily average of 444 millilitres of sugary drinks per capita, including 100 per cent juice, according to sales data from the market research company Euromonitor International.

The average youth, aged nine to 18, drinks 578 millilitres of sugary drinks a day, which can contain up to 64 grams or 16 teaspoons of sugar, putting them well over the recommended daily sugar maximum of 10 per cent of total daily calories.


With files from The Canadian Press