Mexican Congress plans to tax junk food

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Mexican candy
Mmm, I love Mexican candy. Rellerindos are some of my favorites. Fortunately, I take my health more seriously than my taste buds, so I think I’ll pass!

Very recently, Mexico became the fattest nation in the whole world. Ouch, that’s not something a country wants to brag about to their neighbors, right? Well, Mexico’s Congress proposed a law to charge taxes on junk food to shake off the nickname, and chances are it’ll pass!

Last week, the lower of house of Congress approved a 5 percent tax on the unhealthy treats, and now, the Senate leader from Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) says his people are ready to back it up. That means it’ll likely be approved by the end of the month.

The idea behind the law is so simple, it’s genius. Basically, you make junk food more expensive so people are less likely to buy it. Then, as fewer Mexican citizens purchase sugary and salty foods, the better everyone’s health will get. The tax will be applied to items that have more than 275 calories per 100 grams.

“This appears to be the most aggressive strategy anywhere in the world in recent years to improve diets via tax disincentives,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.

However, not everyone is too happy about this proposal.

Several 7-Eleven types of stores in Mexico make big bucks by selling junk food, and the tax proposal could mean a lot less customers for them. Additionally, there are plenty of small families who make money from selling street food that’s likely to be taxed higher, and this will hurt their profits. “It will hurt,” said 50-year-old Eusebia Blas Luna, who has been selling candy bars and sodas in Mexico City for 20 years. “Sales will fall, people will stop buying.”

Whatever the effects of the taxes, “The eyes of the world are focused on Mexico,” said the World Health Organization.

Featured image courtesy of Carlos Van Vegas on Flickr. Image of Mexican candy courtesy of  Warm ‘n Fuzzy on Flickr.