Monday, December 2, 2013

Taxing sugar sweetened beverages and junk food

A tax on sugar sweetened beverages and junk food - in Mexico!

“Thanksgiving once marked the beginning of a season of belt-tightening, as fresh food became scarce. Now it launches a fury of gluttony — and it’s not as if we’re restrained at other times. Yet with obesity-associated Type 2 diabetes at record levels, it’s widely agreed that we have to moderate this diet. Which means that, despite corporate intransigence, we have to slow the marketing of profitable, toxic and addictive products masquerading as food.” So begins the article in the New York Times which describes the new tax on sugar sweetened beverages and junk food which will take effect in Mexico in 2014.

Mexico now outpaces the US in terms of obesity but we are close behind. By creating a coalition of 22 NGO’s and networks representing some 650 nonprofits and grass-roots organizations and members of opposition parties, it was possible to put a tax in place on sugar sweetened beverages as well as junk food. A taxation formula has been created which excludes meat, dairy and other “real food” and taxes those foods that contain more than 275 calories per 100 grams. Among the uses for the revenue generated will be a guarantee of clean drinking water in schools.

As public health workers in this country know, discouraging SSBs and junk food and encouraging healthy eating and “water first” is an enormous challenge. Maybe we can learn some lessons from our neighbors to the south.

For more information, go to Viva Mexico!

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