The Heart and Stroke Foundation is challenging Canadians to consume fewer sugary drinks in its latest bid to raise awareness about sugar’s impact on our health.

The “Count Your Cubes” challenge asks participants to track their sugary drinks intake for a month and count how many cubes of sugar they’ve consumed as a result. The foundation says there are about four grams of sugar in one sugar cube, and one can of pop contains approximately 10 sugar cubes.

“Sugary drinks are the single largest part of sugar in our diets,” Joe Belfontaine, executive director of the Ontario mission for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, told CTV’s News Channel on Monday.

Belfontaine said excessive sugar consumption has been linked to obesity, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, among other conditions. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is trying to help Canadians realize how much sugar they consume on a daily basis.

For the first week of the “Count Your Cubes” challenge, participants are asked not to change their drinking habits and simply record what they drank each day.

For the next three weeks, participants are asked to consume fewer and fewer sugary drinks, with the goal of cutting down the total amount of sugar cubes consumed on a weekly basis.

While all Canadians can sign up for the challenge online, some governments have also partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to push the challenge on a provincial level. The campaign has been promoted by provincial health authorities in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and now Newfoundland and Labrador, Belfontaine said.

“Heart and Stroke, and a number of other organizations, are making this a real priority this year. We’ve very, very concerned with the amount of sugar in our diets,” he said.

“There’s something that everyone can do, whether it be governments or individual communities.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation says sugar should represent no more than 10 per cent of our daily caloric intake. For the average diet of 2,000 calories per day, 10 per cent is about 12 sugar cubes, or 12 teaspoons, of sugar. 

“Canadians in general and young people in specific are consuming much, much more than that,” Belfontaine said.

“There’s a real love of sugar in our society. It’s having a devastating effect on our health.”