A study conducted by Mexican econometricians and researchers of the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM) on the impact of the tax on drinks with added sugars found that the measure failed in reducing calorie consumption and tackling overweight and obesity.

The study “Taxing Calories in Mexico” is the first large-scale analysis of the effects of the special tax introduced in 2013 by the Mexican government with the declared objective of reducing consumption of food and non-alcoholic beverages allegedly associated with overweight and obesity.

The results represent new fundamental evidence to support what a growing number of studies has demonstrated, in particular:

  1. There is no academic evidence to prove that an increase in prices deriving from a tax over “caloric food” (drinks with added sugar especially) leads to a significant reduction in total caloric consumption and/or incidence on the Body Mass Index (BMI) of people. One year after the implementation of the tax the BMI in Mexico is still increasing and the total caloric consumption decreased by less than 1% only, especially due to substitution effects.
  2. Taxes of this kind have a stronger negative impact on the poorer households since they spend a higher proportion of their income on food and beverages.

The study was funded by the Consejo Mexicano de la Industria de Productos de Consumo, A.C. (ConMéxico), which signed an agreement with ITAM to ensure full academic independence for the authors in conducting the research and using the results.

The complete study and its conclusions are available at: http://cie.itam.mx/sites/default/files/cie/15-04.pdf