A new study says that residents of Alberta are among the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages in Canada and an advocacy group says a tax would help change that trend.

The Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, made up of 17 organizations from all over the province, commissioned the University of Waterloo for a study looking into the prevalence of sugary drinks in the province.

The group says the study shows Alberta consumes more sweetened drinks than the national average and wants to put a tax on those drinks in hopes of curbing the issue.

Dr. Kim Raine, part of the coalition, says the study also looked at what would be an effective rate of taxation to change people’s minds.

“20 percent seems to be exactly where you’re going to get the biggest impact on decreasing consumption, so 20 percent is what the World Health Organization is recommending as an appropriate level of taxation.”

The group says the levy could turn people to healthier choices like milk and water to quench their thirst.

“Let’s not let another year go by. It’s time for a levy on sugar sweetened beverages in Alberta. It’s time to leverage the beverage to improve our health,” said Kate Chidester, a registered nurse with the coalition.

Health care providers say that sugary drinks are cheap and highly marketed, particularly towards teenagers.

The coalition says there are many places that already have levies on sugary drinks, including Finland, France, Mexico and some cities in the United States.

(With files from Kevin Fleming)