Con Soda

Soda Consumption Down, Problem Solved?

Soda consumption is down 10% in Mexico, according to preliminary results of a survey of consumer purchase patterns published by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. This follows the institution of a seven-cents-per-liter tax on sugary drinks in January. At the same time, Mexico imposed an 8% tax on high-caloric, non-essential foods like chips and cookies.

Mexico desperately needed action to reverse the rapidly growing prevalence of obesity that gave Mexico the distinction of having the highest obesity rate of any populous country in the world. So this tax on highly caloric and otherwise unnourishing foods and beverages was easy to rationalize. Says UNC’s Barry Popkin:

Taxation, just like it did for tobacco, is the most effective way to get people to change their behavior.

Popkin is working with the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico on the analysis of this policy’s impact. The preliminary finding of a reduction in soda sales is certainly consistent with results reported by the businesses that sell these products.

But the real story here will be told when we know the net effect. Purchases of water, fruit juice, and milk are going up, we’re told. Past efforts to target a single source of calories have not worked out well. Making fat the bogeyman in the 80s and 90s gave us a diet rich in sugar and carbs.

Just driving soda consumption into the dirt won’t solve the problem if people find their calories elsewhere. The real point is to reduce the rate of obesity. It’s best to know the full results before we do our happy dance.

Click here to read more about these preliminary results and click here to read what was published by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. Click here to read about an advertising campaign against sugary beverages in Mexico.

Con Soda, photograph © Teb / flickr

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