Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in Mexico

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shu Wen Ng, Ph.D., FTOS Research Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition Gillings School of Global Public Health Fellow, Carolina Population Center Duke-UNC Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Shu Wen Ng

Shu Wen Ng, Ph.D., FTOS
Research Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Fellow, Carolina Population Center
Duke-UNC Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Mexican government enacted a 1 peso per liter tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) after studies showed that more than 70 percent of the country’s population was overweight or obese, and that in excess of 70 percent of the added sugar calories in the Mexican diet were coming from SSBs. We were interested in learning how purchases of SSBs and other beverages changed in the 2 years after the tax was implemented in Mexico. The Health Affairs study titled “In Mexico, Evidence Of Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax” found that in the two-year period spanning 2014 to 2015, the tax resulted in a 5.5 percent reduction in the first year and continued to decline, averaging 9.7 percent the second year, with lower socioeconomic households, for whom health care costs are most burdensome, lowered their purchases of sweetened beverages the most. Meanwhile, purchases of untaxed beverages such as bottled water increased 2.1 percent.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The sugar sweetened beverages tax in Mexico is encouraging consumers to reduce their purchase and thus intake of unhealthy sugary beverages and substituting with healthier alternatives such as water.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It would be important to monitor longer-run changes in sugar sweetened beverages intake and resultant health outcomes. Given the strong evidence linking sugary beverage consumption with weight gain, diabetes and other chronic diseases, it is expected that reductions in sugary beverage purchases/intake will lead to health improvements in the long run. The data in our study only goes through the second year of the tax. It will take decades for the current obesity epidemic to first slow down, then stop, and finally reverse, while other health benefits might be seen sooner. Estimates show that over 10-years, Mexico’s sugary beverage tax will prevent 189,300 cases of diabetes, 20,400 heart attacks and strokes, and 18,900 deaths among Mexican adults aged 35-94y, as well as generate significant healthcare savings.

No disclosures to declare.

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Citation:

In Mexico, Evidence Of Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax
M. Arantxa Cochero, Juan Rivera-Dommarco, Barry M. Popkin, and Shu Wen Ng
Health Aff 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1231; published ahead of print February 22, 2017, doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1231

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