The government of Mexico has launched a strategy to fight obesity and diabetes through fiscal reforms weighing on the consumption of soft drinks and junk food. The project unveiled by President Enrique Peña Nieto is in response to what the UN has defined as a “national emergency”. The measure, supported by the WHO, increases the price of soft drinks by one peso per litre, and places a special 8% charge on junk food.
Mexico has the most obese adults after the United States, and the most obesity among children. According to Il Fatto Alimentare, annual per capita sales of soft drinks in Mexico is 180 litres, higher than the US at 118, making it the largest consumer of these beverages in the world. Added to the country’s high-calorie cuisine, this means epidemic levels of related disorders.
The objective is to discourage consumers, as well as invest revenues in healthy policies and infrastructure, initiatives for rural populations, and access to drinkable water where the lack of it generates soft drink consumption. Nevertheless, raising prices “is no guarantee” that bad habits will change, as food engineering specialist with the UIA Ruth Pedroza Isla explains, adding that the new policy is “simplistic” and that there must be more prevention, education and scarcity.