Mexico has one of the highest rates of soda consumption, overweight, and diabetes in the world. The average Mexican adult drinks 163 liters of soda. 72% of adult Mexicans are overweight, and 15% have diabetes.
In the fall of 2013, the Mexican federal government passed a 10% tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. The following year, purchases of these beverages decreased an average of 6% relative to the counter-factual (controlled for seasonal and pre-existing trends), indicating that this tax was an effective deterrent. Evaluating the public health benefits of this tax will require more time, but this is a promising early result.
While hard evidence for dietary interventions is difficult to gather, much of what we know already argues for a compelling public interest in curbing the consumption of refined sugar similar to the public interest in decreasing smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.
A tax on refined sugar with proceeds going to consumer-level fresh produce subsidies would be a great way for us to invest in a healthier future for ourselves.