Study finds Mexico’s sugar-sweetened beverage tax reduced purchases of sugary drinks

The first comprehensive peer reviewed study to examine the immediate effects of Mexico’s new tax on sugar sweetened beverages was published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) in January 2016. The full study is available online.

Researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (INSP), the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC’s Carolina Population Center estimated changes in household purchases of beverages over the complete year of 2014 compared with beverage purchase trends from 2012 and 2013. The study was funded mainly by long-term support to the INSP and the University of North Carolina by Bloomberg Philanthropies along with supplementary funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Key findings include:

  • There was a six percent average decline in purchases of taxed beverages during 2014, reaching a 12 percent reduction by December.
  • The tax had the greatest impact among lower socioeconomic households, with a nine percent average decline in purchases of sugary drinks over 2014 and a 17 percent decline by December among that group.
  • The purchase of untaxed beverages increased by four percent overall, primarily driven by an increase in bottled water purchases. This suggests that consumers are substituting healthier beverages in place of SSBs.

Read the full study here, or download the PDF here.

Listen to an interview with Shuwen Ng by Joel Werner from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – about the effect of the SSB tax on Mexican households.