Earlier this year Mexico passed the U.S. as the most obese country in the world, but it is not taking that title willingly. This week the Mexican Congress stepped up with a tax reform bill that will increase taxes on junk foods and sodas in an attempt to curb the country’s rising obesity rates.
“We can’t keep our arms crossed in front of a real overweight and obesity epidemic,” said President Enrique Peña Nieto. “The lives of millions of Mexicans are literally at risk.”
According to The Guardian, 32.8 percent of adult Mexicans are obese, compared with 31.8 percent of adult Americans. Approximately 9.2 percent of children in Mexico have diabetes.
“Obesity and diabetes are affecting school and work performances, and with it, the country’s economic competitiveness,” said Health Minister Mercedes Juan.
As part of the new strategy against obesity, Mexico’s senate approved an 8 percent tax on foods that have more than 275 calories per 100 grams. There will also be a 1-peso or 8-cent per liter tax on sodas. Mexico has one of the highest rates of soda consumption in the world. People in Mexico drink 43 gallons of sodas a year on average.
The money raised by the new junk food tax is earmarked for health programs and increasing access to drinking water in schools.