Mexican Soda Tax Cuts Sugary Drink Sales
Mexico’s effort to fight its obesity epidemic by reducing consumption of sugary drinks appears to be working.
A 10 percent sales tax was introduced in the country on January 1, 2014, and one year later, sales of sugary drinks were down 12 percent while sales of untaxed beverages – mainly bottled water – were up 4 percent, according to the study published in the journal BMJ.
Mexico has high levels of diabetes and obesity, and curbing sugar consumption has been an important target for health advocates.
The analysis of data from more than 6,200 Mexican households in 53 large cities showed that, in 2014, the average person bought 4.2 fewer liters of sugary drinks than they would have before the tax. That reduction in sales of sugary drinks was highest among poor households, falling 17 percent by the end of 2014.
Only one U.S. city, Berkeley, CA, has imposed a soda tax. That happened last year and it’s still too soon to determine how much impact it’s had. Other cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco, have considered such taxes, but the proposed legislation was defeated.
The beverage industry has fought the taxes, arguing that fighting obesity should be more about education than taxation.
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