P.E.I.'s deputy chief health officer wants Islanders to weigh in on the debate around sugar-sweetened beverages and a number of other issues aimed at making the province's population healthier.

Lamont Sweet - custom

P.E.I. deputy chief health officer Lamont Sweet believes sugary drinks are a contributing factor in the obesity of Islanders. (CBC)

The province released the Towards a Culture of Wellness discussion paper in November. It outlines five areas of concern.

  • Positive Mental Wellness.
  • Being Active.
  • Living Tobacco Free.
  • Eating Well.
  • Using Alcohol Responsibly .

The discussion paper makes a number of suggestions, among them that Islanders be informed and educated about "the impact that increased consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has on overweight and obesity."  The paper notes the drinks, among others, are targeted by the World Health Organization and the Canadian government as major contributors to the obesity epidemic.

The discussion paper also notes that the majority of Islanders are overweight or obese.

Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr. Lamont Sweet, said early comments from the public include a suggestion P.E.I. charge a small health tax on these drinks to control consumption.

"I don't think that it's clear that any one strategy is going to solve all of this problem, from education to all of the other particular measures to decrease the consumption," he said.

Sweet said a two-litre bottle of pop has six times the recommended daily sugar intake for an adult, and that suggests some kind of action should be taken.

The Canadian Beverage Association does not believe it's fair to single-out sugar-sweetened beverages as the problem. Its research shows the average Canadian takes nine days to drink a two-litre bottle of pop. The Association also says numerous scientific studies have found no causal link between sugar-sweetened beverages and increased weight or obesity.

The province's wellness discussion paper is open for comment until Jan. 31. The final document will recommend ways Islanders could improve their health.