Jamie Oliver calls out Canada for dragging its heels on sugary drink tax
In this file photo, Jamie Oliver attends an event in Toronto on Monday, October 7, 2013. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 16, 2016 2:48PM EDT
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is urging Canada to follow the U.K.'s example by implementing a tax on sugary drinks, after his home country passed a bill to put the anti-obesity measure into effect.
The British chef and reality TV star posted a four-minute rant about the U.K. sugar tax on Facebook Thursday, in front of the British Parliament. Oliver called the tax on sugary drinks a "bold, brave move" by his homeland, and called for Canada, Germany and Australia to pass similar laws.
"It's about time your governments got on this," Oliver said in the video. "I know you were talking about it behind closed doors, but you're scared of industry."
Oliver released a documentary last year called "Sugar Rush," in which he examines the role sugar plays in affecting various health issues around the world.
On Thursday, Oliver said he didn't expect the British government would act so swiftly to implement a sugar tax.
"I knew it was logical, I knew it was based in science, and I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn't think we'd get it," he said in the video. "This will send ripples around the world, as far as how these weak, pathetic governments combat the rise in childhood obesity and diet-related disease," he added.
The chef implemented a sugar tax on drinks at his restaurants last year.
The food revolution is underway
The food revolution is underway. This feels like a victory for Britain's children and for everyone who has campaigned so hard for a tax on sugary sweetened drinks. I would love the money to go to food education as well as sport but I think we have to applaud the Chancellor for taking this extremely important, bold step. I hope that this bravery will continue to form a part of this Government's attitude to dealing with obesity and will influence the Prime Minister's Childhood Obesity strategy later in the year.Posted by Jamie Oliver on Wednesday, March 16, 2016
A Senate committee report released earlier this month concluded that the Canada Food Guide was "dated" in its attitude toward sugary juices and soft drinks, and recommended the government consider a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The report also suggested a possible ban on advertising sugary food and drinks to children.
The Canadian Beverage Association quickly rejected the suggestion of a sugar tax in a statement, saying that sweetened drinks make up only a small portion of the calories in Canadians' diets.
"Canada's beverage companies already voluntarily provide a clear calorie label on the front of all of our products, in addition to what Health Canada requires as part of food labelling requirements," the organization said in a March 1 statement.
Health Minister Jane Philpott told the Canadian Press that the Liberals are looking at the possibility of a sugar tax, but they have no plans to implement one at this point.
The Senate report said 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die annually from conditions linked to excess weight. It estimated that obesity also costs the country between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion a year in health-care needs and lost productivity.