soda tax

Mexico’s sugar tax has led to reduced consumption of sugar for the second year running, a new analysis finds.

Scientists are optimistic that the 10 per cent tax on sugar drinks, which was introduced in 2014, could result in lower rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“It will be important for us to continue to monitor this tax and see how this actually will affect overall diets, diabetes prevalence and other biological markers of the many noncommunicable diseases linked with excessive sugary beverage consumption,” said senior author Barry Popkin, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

In the first year of the tax being introduced, sales of sugary soft drinks fell in Mexico by six per cent. These new figures show a 9.7 per cent decline for the second year, averaging 7.6 per cent over the two years.

More than 70 per cent of Mexico’s population is overweight or obese, and over 70 per cent of added sugar in diets comes from sugar-sweetened drinks.

Experts are keeping a close eye on the effects of the tax, but it will take years for any effect on health to be calculated. This is because conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay can take years to develop.

Gillings researchers, who conducted this study alongside scientists from the Mexican Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (National Institute of Public Health), are confident these effects will be seen.

“These reductions in consumption could have positive impacts on health outcomes and reductions in healthcare expenses in Mexico,” wrote the study authors.

The authors did find that the sugar tax led to lower sugary drink purchases in low-income households, which the researchers suspect could be due to increased production of bottled water.

The findings appear online in the journal Health Affairs.