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  • The 10% tax to sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico should reduce obesity by 2.5% by 2024 and prevent 86 to 134 thousand new cases of diabetes by 2030.
  • Young adults and people with lower socioeconomic status should experience larger health benefits.
  • Increasing the tax to 20% should at least double the expected impact of the current tax.

Mexico is one of the countries more heavily affected by obesity and diabetes. According to the latest figures, 34% of the population in Mexico has obesity and 9.2% have been diagnosed with diabetes. The health and economic implications are so large, that in 2016 the Health Ministry declared obesity and diabetes national public health emergencies. Mexico is also a major consumer of sugary drinks, a known risk factor for obesity and diabetes. Up to 10% of all calories consumed by Mexican children and adults come from sugary drinks.

In January 2014, the Mexican government implemented a 10% tax to industrialized sugar sweetened beverages to curb the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Two years later, a first analysis of impact, published in the British Medical Journal, reported that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages in the country had decreased by 6.1% due to the tax. Now, a team of researchers from the National Institute of Public Health and the University of Michigan used a series of mathematical models to project the impact of this reduction in sugary beverages consumption on obesity and diabetes in the country.

Using available information on sugary drinks consumption and specific characteristics of the adult population, such as age and body weight, the team of epidemiologists, mathematicians, economists, and medicine doctors estimated that the prevalence of obesity in adults should be reduced by 2.5% by 2024 thanks to the tax. Also, the tax should prevent between 86 and 134 thousand new cases of diagnosed diabetes by 2030.

Young adults are the main consumers of sugary drinks, so the tax should benefit them most, helping them to reduce more body weight than other groups. This has major implications, because reducing obesity early in life provides larger health benefits. The study also found that the tax provides weight reductions for all socioeconomic groups, however, people with lower socioeconomic status should experience larger health benefits.

Since 2014, health advocates have called for the Mexican government to increase the sugary drinks tax to 20%. The evidence produced by the study supports this idea. According to the team’s projections, a 20% increase could at least double the health benefits of the current tax, leading to a 6.8% reduction in obesity and to fewer 171 to 267 thousand new diabetes cases.


Barrientos-Gutierrez T, Zepeda-Rodriguez R, Meza R, et al. Expected Population Weight and Diabetes Impact of the 1-peso-per-litre Tax to Sugar Sweetened Beverages in Mexico. PLOS ONE. Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176336

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