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University of Toronto researchers back Canada implementing sugary-drink tax

Last year the World Health Organization recommended all countries adopt a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks. Metro looks at results in countries that have a tax.

Researchers at University of Toronto are backing calls to introduce a tax on sugary drinks as part of efforts to combat obesity rates.

Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

Researchers at University of Toronto are backing calls to introduce a tax on sugary drinks as part of efforts to combat obesity rates.

Nutritional scientists from the University of Toronto are calling for Canada to impose a sugary-drink tax to fight obesity, declaring their position in a recent report funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Last year the World Health Organization recommended all countries adopt a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks. Experts are still monitoring the impact, but several countries have reported their own results:

Mexico:

A 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks was introduced in 2014. A year later, the country reported a 5.5 per cent decline in such purchases. Last year, the decline reached 9.7 per cent, according to the WHO. Over 70 per cent of the Mexican population is overweight, the agency says.

France:

In 2012, the French government introduced a tariff of 1 euro cent per container on all sugar sweetened beverages to reduce obesity — but also as part of austerity measures. Sales have shrunk, falling four per cent last year, according to the French government.

Hungary:

The Hungarian government introduced a "fat tax" in 2011, charging about 50 euro cents for each food or drink item with higher levels of fat, sugar and salt. By 2016, about 40 per cent of food manufacturers in the country had reduced the amount of unhealthy ingredients to avoid the tax, according to the Financial Times.

Denmark:

The Scandinavian country introduced a tax on sugary drinks back in the 1930s, and a 22 euro cent per litre tax was bringing in about 60 million euros a year. But later the country abandoned the tax after it realized it was losing nearly 40 million euros in illegal soft drink sales, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs.

More:

Several countries are set to start taxing sugary drinks in 2018, including the U.K., Switzerland and South Africa.

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