Mexico proposes a 'soda tax' to combat obesity
Mexico is the latest country to propose a higher tax on soft drinks in an attempt to curb high obesity rates which is a growing worldwide problem.
The country's residents are the most obese adults in the world with 32.8 per cent of Mexicans deemed overweight, compared to 31.8 per cent of Americans, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto hopes to raise $950 million for the country thanks to a proposed eight-cent (1 peso) per litre tax on soft drinks. Mexico's residents drink an astonishing 163 litres of soft drinks a year, one of the highest consumption rates in the world.
Overweight and obesity rates have risen around the globe with the likelihood of adults having one of these conditions rising to 34 per cent in 2008 from 24 per cent in 1980. Rates are increasing in every country, even in low-income countries where there's severe malnutrition, says the United Nations FAO.
Obesity isn't good for anyone's health, but it also puts a strain on a household's budget - whether it's through healthcare expenses or increased food costs. Weight increases can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer, as a few of the issues, which lead to a heavier strain on the country's healthcare system.
Countries have attempted to use a "fat tax" to improve the eating habits of residents. It's taking a page out of the book of tobacco control, which research shows that once cigarette prices rose by 50 per cent, smoking rates dropped.
Denmark is believed to be the first country to implement a "fat tax" in October 2011. The tax was added to food with more than 2.3 per cent of saturated fat, which included dairy, meat and processed foods. While the tax meant well, it was cancelled after about a year since it had a harmful effect on businesses and led Danish residents to cross the border to buy their junk food. The tax did manage to raise a revenue of $216 million, according to the New York Times.
In France, there was a backlash over a proposed "Nutella tax," which could have quadrupled the cost of food containing palm oil, such as Nutella. It was voted down.
Samoa Air, an airline company servicing the South Pacific, introduced the first-ever, pay-by-weight policy, which charges for a persons' baggage, along with their weight.
Unfortunately, obesity rates in Canada have climbed to record rates. The Ontario Medical Association has called for junk food taxes on unhealthy foods and cheaper taxes on healthy food option as some of the organization's recommendations.
Organizations continue to debate whether it's more or less expensive to eat healthy. While fruits and vegetables cost less compared to other high fat or high sugary foods, it depends on how you measure the price, according to a study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Foods compared by price per calorie show that high-calorie processed foods are cheaper, while if food is compared by weight or portion size than healthier grain, fruit and vegetable and dairy options are more inexpensive.
Do you think a "fat tax" is a good or bad idea?
Josephine Lim, MSN Money