Mexico Could Soon Tax Junk Food

5% tax on high-calorie food and drink passes lower house

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 19, 2013 4:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Proposed soda taxes have been shot down in the US, but in Mexico, that bottle of Jarritos could soon cost more. Legislation that will tax high-calorie food and sugary drinks was approved by Mexico's Chamber of Deputies yesterday. Now it's headed to the Senate, where it's also expected to pass, reports the LA Times. If enacted, foods with 275 calories or more per 100 grams will be taxed an extra 5%, chewing gum 16%, and soda will cost about 8 cents more per liter.

According to the UN, 32.8% of Mexican adults are obese—even more than the US, where the figure is 31.8%. The junk food levy is part of a wider tax package that will generate some $20 billion for the government. Still, the tax has plenty of opponents. It's "a cruel way to take away the little pleasure we can give our kid," says one Mexico City local. "How do you tell your children you are so poor you cannot give them a little soft drink?" Opponents also argue it will hit mom and pop stores. "It will hurt," says a woman who sells candy and soda on a street corner. "Sales will fall, people will stop buying."

Office workers eat tacos at an outdoor food stand during lunch time in Mexico City.
Office workers eat tacos at an outdoor food stand during lunch time in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Ivan Pierre Aguirre)
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