About two years ago, Mexico implemented a 10 percent excise tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages under the guise that it would improve public health in Mexico. But did the tax really improve public health in Mexico?
In an article published in FoodNavigtor Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Katherine Rich explains that the tax raised revenue but failed to improve public health.
Examining the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal on the effects of the sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Mexico, Rich found that despite the authors claiming the success of the tax, Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and one of the study’s authors, told the media that the tax has not had an impact on obesity.
“There has been no evidence to date that it has had any effect on obesity or total calories consumed,” writes Rich. Rich further goes on to note the authors themselves admitted that “a major limitation of this work is that causality cannot be established...”
So what did the tax actually accomplish?
A study by Mexico’s National Soft Drinks Association has found that the majority of the tax was paid by Mexico’s poorest families and it was a factor in the closure of more than 30,000 mom and pop stores.
“The punitive taxation of food and beverages to price goods beyond citizens’ incomes is unlikely to be a humane or effective solution,” Rich concludes.
The situation in Mexico proves that taxes are not the answer to the world’s public health woes; instead they are regressive and harm small businesses without making anyone healthier. To find out more about how taxes harm local businesses and consumers, check out The Truth About Beverage Taxes.