Mexico is one step closer to imposing a significant tax on junk foods. Multiple outlets report that Mexico's Senate voted to impose an 8 percent tax on high-calorie foods, up from the 5 percent tax proposed by the lower house. It's all part of a national plan to fight back against obesity and encourage more food manufacturers to switch to healthier formulas.
The approved Senate bill, which classifies high-calorie foods as those having more than 275 calories per 100 grams, must still be approved by the House of Deputies before it can become law.
Both the Senate and House have already approved a one-peso (8-cent) per-liter tax on soft drinks, a move that was fiercely opposed by bottlers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. According to the AP, "Mexico has one of the world's highest yearly soda consumptions, with Mexicans drinking on average 163 liters (43 gallons) of soft drinks annually."
Mexico also has one of the world's highest rates of obesity, which is why a junk food tax is only one part of a comprehensive plan that aims to help Mexicans eat healthier and lose weight. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, just under one-third of adult Mexicans are obese, compared to 32 percent of U.S. citizens.
In addition to making junk food more expensive, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a "seal of nutritional quality" which will be affixed to products that have fewer calories or higher fiber content. He also announced plans for educational, health-monitoring and sports programs.
Other countries, many of which are struggling with their own obesity epidemics, will watch closely to see if Mexico's plan is successful. New York City's Mayor Bloomberg attempted to enact his own ban on large, sugary drinks, but the measure was overturned earlier this year.
Although controversial for many reasons, past research has shown that taxing soda and junk food is an effective way to reduce calorie consumption
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