Last month, Mexican lawmakers voted to tax unhealthy foods and beverages. Come January, if you buy a soft drink, you’ll need to cough up an extra peso (8 cents) for each liter (quart) of brown liquid candy. The same fee will be exacted on purchases of high calorie foods such as potato chips and candy.
The law is expected to be signed by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto shortly, and to bring in an extra Billion dollars in revenue to the government.
How did such a tax come to be?
Mexico has obesity rates that are even higher than those of the United States. It also has the highest per capita consumption of soft drinks in the world – 2 cups per person per day! Coca Cola and Pepsi have become ingrained in the fabric of Mexican life; this is the result of decades of capitalizing on people’s fears of unsafe drinking water.
Despite heavy lobbying by the food industry, Mexico’s politicians did something nobody in the US has been able to do: enact a countrywide public health measure. Taxing soda may not be the best answer to America’s obesity problem, but getting a sufficient number of politicians to actually coalesce and do something in the public’s health interest (instead of the big food companies) would be nice.