Nova Scotia senator leads group calling on Ottawa to help Canadians lose weight

A Nova Scotia senator wants the federal government to implement measures such as a sugar tax and a rewrite of the Canada Food Guide to help Canadians eat healthier.

2 out of 3 Canadian adults are now either overweight or obese, says new Senate report

Senator Kelvin Ogilvie believes the cheap price of sugary foods and drinks has played a major role in Canada's obesity crisis. (Shutterstock)

A Nova Scotia senator says Canadians are fat and getting fatter, and it's time the federal government stepped in to curb that trend.

The Senate committee on social affairs, science and technology — chaired by Senator Kelvin Ogilvie — released a report called Obesity in Canada on Tuesday.

It recommends implementing a tax on sugary drinks, introducing government subsidies on healthy food and rewriting Canada's Food Guide.

"We're hopeful that the minister will take this report very seriously," Ogilvie told CBC Radio's Information Morning.

Ogilvie said it's time the food guide gave Canadians simple and clear advice: eat whole or unprocessed foods, give examples of whole meals that are healthy and take a strong stance against heavily refined foods.

'Very significant impact on the quality of life'

The obesity report states two out of three Canadian adults are now either overweight or obese. The number of obese Canadians has doubled since 1980, while the number of obese children has tripled.

Ogilvie believes the cheap price of sugary foods and drinks has played a major role in that. That's why the committee wants the federal government to put a tax on sugary drinks.

"Government should use any revenues collected from additional taxes on sugary drinks to find ways of reducing the cost of healthy foods to consumers, particularly low income consumers," said Ogilvie.

The committee also wants the way taxes are applied to be reviewed. For example, prepared salads in grocery stores are taxed, while sugary breakfast cereals are not, said Ogilvie.

Ogilvie said obesity is a massive health problem that haunts people, especially as they age.

"It not only leads to very serious health issues particularly in the last five to 15 years of life, those are enormously costly to society," he said.

"But there's a very significant impact on the quality of life for individuals in those circumstances."


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