Tag Archives: obesity

New Senate Proposed Sugary Beverage Tax – The Real Benefit Isn’t Lower Obesity Rates

backgroundThe month of March ushered in news of a new report entitled “Obesity in Canada”. Submitted by the Senate, this report was a 21 recommendation paper to try and constructively address the growing concern of why Canadians are following its Southern neighbors in growing rates of obesity in both children and adults. In fact there are is a doubling in obesity in adults since 1980 and children’s obesity rates in this country have tripled in that time. This report was a breath of fresh air from a government group that many today look at with question of why they are even there.

As a Pharmacy owner that discontinued sale of such products in September of 2014, this story caught my eye. Anything having something to do with sugary beverages is a hot topic with the media, as I abruptly found out that day a year and a half ago. Even a small pharmacy in the middle of nowhere can make the national and international news by making “such a bold and forward thinking move” (as it was described) as stopping the sale of everything from pop, juice, vitamin water, sports drinks and chocolate milk.

Any talk of manipulating the sale of a staple in the Canadian diet will bring about cries of a “Nanny State move”. So when news hit that one of the recommendations from the Senate’s report was a proposed tax on such drinks, the naysayers came out of the woodwork, and along with them, the defenders of the plan. One of the first to press against the idea was Jim Goetz, the president of the Canadian Beverage Association who attempted to educate us in a biased way with stories of how this has been tried in other parts of the world and didn’t work, had no effect on obesity and resulted in lost jobs and increased grocery expenditures. Mr. Goetz is a name I learned back when I stopped selling these beverages and saw an article in rebuttal to this type of move. When I read of crazy claims that increased calorie intake had nothing to do with obesity, it really opened my eyes to the war that goes on in this category.

Granted there is no shortage of stories where an increase in tax on a target food group seemed to be a dud with respect to changes in obesity, even when the calorie intake did seem to drop. Denmark, Mexico, the United States, Finland, France, Hungary all are examples of stories where a tax was implemented with results that vary depending on who tells the story. In fact during a recent CBC Radio interview on the Senate report I gave recently, I was pressed on the success (or lack of) in such programs. I was quite persistent though on the complete irrelevance of the obesity outcome but rather we should focus on the fact that we need to pay for the adverse health issues that arise from the obesity that we know these beverages cause.

When I cross from Dartmouth to Halifax on either bridge, I expect to pay a toll. It doesn’t really cause me to take the long way around through Bedford, I pay the toll and drive over the bridge. I do it because I realize the upkeep of the bridge has to happen somehow and if I don’t pay it through tolls, I’ll sure as heck going to end up paying it some other way. It just makes sense for users to pay for that. When I buy tires for my car, I pay a fee that is to be used for the recycling of that tire at its end of life. You just do it because something has to happen to that tire when you’re done with it and that costs money to do.

If you agree that extra calorie intake results in obesity, then what is it that drains the healthcare budget of a country so quick when its population becomes more obese? Children with obesity are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Adults with obesity have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, heart disease and diabetes and also are more likely to be absent from work, pursue lower income jobs and earn lower overall wages (and in doing so pay less tax). Last year in the U.S., health care costs as a result of obesity reached $300 billion annually. A simple consideration in mathematics will show how this cost could be somewhat offset by a sugary beverage tax. Even though there are many reasons a nation becomes overweight, sugary beverages are one of them and you can consider it a user fee with that tax.

Lots of other great ideas came from the report, like an overhaul of the Canada Food Guide – without involvement from the food industry and one of my favorite recommendations, stricter controls on advertising unhealthy food and drinks for kids. Well done Canadian Senate!

Graham MacKenzie Ph.C.

IMG_2313[2] copyStone’s Pharmasave

Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Posted in Stone's Pharmasave, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Why is it becoming easier to gain weight?


There is no point giving statistics anymore on the incidence of obesity, the effects of obesity, the millions of dollars spent to eliminate obesity, or the cost obesity has on everyone.  These statistics are merely valuable for trivia at best and really don’t result in anyone becoming fearful for their lives and going off to lose weight.  The fact is that each generation finds it easier to put on weight than the last.  It is common to tell someone they are overweight simply because they eat more than they burn off;  that someone is overweight because they are lazy.  Hmmmm….logic would lead us to believe then that laziness is a relatively new human trait that progressively becomes worse with each generation, leading to more overweight people.

Of course this type of thinking only results in people incorrectly thinking that their weight problem happened 100% because of their fault.  True, weight loss occurs in humans when we change what and how much we eat and increase our activity level – it is pretty difficult to disprove that.  If you live a healthier lifestyle you should lose weight and keep a healthy weight.  But why is it easier now to put pounds back on when we lose our focus for just a few days?  Is this what happened say, 2000 years ago? 10,000 years ago?  Were we all sitting around the TV watching weight loss programs back then scratching our heads as to how we got so big?  Obesity is not new to us, but the prevalence of it has never been higher.  It becomes clear that it is nothing short of cruel to make a person believe that all of us would be the same weight if we all ate the same and exercised the same and that the reason they are overweight is negligence on their behalf.

So what is the difference today compared to back then?

ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS  One thing that we are constantly exposed to from conception onward in this part of the world  are insults in the environment that have adverse effects on our hormones.  Thyroid, estrogens and androgens.  One of the biggest increases in this category is from bisphenol A (BPA).  This chemical is found everywhere in our daily lives.  From the lining of metal cans, to your plastic containers containing your drinking water, the plastic tea bag holding your healthy dose of herbal tea, food storage containers (that you microwave), even the air you are breathing – all contain this chemical.  It has been proven that exposure to BPA causes obesity.  It is a potent imitator of estrogen in the body and alters glucose and lipid metabolism.

FOOD SENSITIVITIES  Certainly one thing around today that wasn’t around thousands of years ago is the type of food available.  It was postulated in the first half of the last century that food sensitivity was responsible for obesity.  We now know the exact mechanism that happens when we eat an inflammatory food and how it results in fat cells increasing in both size and number.  Genetically modified food that the body was not evolved to recognize is one source.  The reliance we have in this part of the world on this type of food is staggering.  Because of the dominance in the market with this type of thinking from a handful of companies, we consume more and more of this kind of food.  To ad insult to injury, the same foods we are allergic to cause an addiction to the same food and cravings occur for the food that increases  weight.  Not many of us have an addiction to say kale, or carrots.  We do though often have addictions to carbs, which when ingested create substances in the body that are related to opiods.  This includes wheat gluten and milk protein (also a relatively new introduction to humans) as well as refined sugar.

REFINED SUGAR  Another new addition to our diets as humans is this much hated and loved set of molecules.  Consuming these causes a spike in insulin levels to deal with the sugar load in your blood.  Hopefully this spike will drop the blood sugar level quickly.  Unfortunately the resulting dive in blood sugar and the overcompensation of insulin dumped into the blood causes a low sugar level in the blood that you are chasing all day.  You eat more sugar, you get more insulin, your sugar drops… do you see a pattern.  This helps to contribute to insulin sensitivity.  It is like a wave on the ocean that you can’t stop.  Fructose is one of these sugars.  Although this sugar doesn’t result in the up and down levels in the blood just described, it does get metabolized into lipids and results in abdominal weight gain.

STRESS  Anyone out there with no stress in their lives, please stand up.  Now that we are all sitting down, you are at least comforted by the fact that you are not alone.  You have bills, you have relationships, you have deaths of loved ones, you have job issues, you have traffic, you have kids, you have stress.  True, stress has always been there with humans, it’s just the constant nature of stress we deal with that is different.  So is the type of stress.  Cavemen and women had stress when they left the cave to get food and not get eaten themselves.  They weren’t late for work, checking their visa bills on their iPhone at 2:00 AM, breaking down on the freeway taking their kids to soccer, or paying for their college education.  Stress increases cortisol, and constant stress keeps cortisol elevated more than it should, cortisol stores your fat.

Other things we have the ability to chose but are so prevalent in our world are trans fatty acids, lack of dietary fiber, artificial sweeteners, lack of breast feeding, high caloric diets, lack of frequent small meals, grazing, late bedtimes, lack of sleep, prevalence of acid lowering drugs that prevent digestion from fully occurring, lack of exercise, all contribute to weight gain.

It’s not totally your fault you crept up a few pounds year by year, it’s not your fault it takes more work to lose weight than your friend of the same age, but it is still up to you to decide if you want to remain overweight or not.  We know how to lose weight, it’s just harder for some more than others.  Your genes are different than your friend’s.  It means they have blonde hair and you have brown, is can also mean you lose weight with more effort than them.  But you can still do it.

Take Care









Posted in Nutritonal Supplements, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment