Our children are becoming victims of an unfair food environment as they are continuously targeted by unhealthy foods and beverages that are designed to be addictive. Most of these foods and beverages contain high amounts of sugar and are marketed to Canadian children in all aspects of their lives. The overconsumption of sugar is contributing to the rise in childhood obesity in Canada as more than 31% of Canadian children are obese.
Both the World Health Organization and the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommend that no more than 10% of energy intake come from free sugars*, and ideally less than 5%. For the average 2000 calorie diet, this means no more than 12 teaspoons (or 48g) and ideally no more than 6 teaspoons (or 24g) of energy should come from free sugars. To put this into perspective, one 355ml can of a soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of free sugar. Sugary drinks are the largest contributor of sugar in the diet and include soft drinks, sports drinks, juices, energy drinks and speciality teas and coffees. Sugary drinks contain so much sugar that with each additional sugary drink a child drinks daily, the odds of becoming obese increase by 60 per cent. As children get older, they drink more sugary drinks and are targeted more by beverage companies. A Canadian study found that the percentage of commercials for sugary drinks on teen’s TV stations was significantly higher than that on children’s TV stations.