Latin America vs soft drinks

Latin American countries are discussing the possibility of implementing taxes in order to avoid obesity

Latin America vs soft drinks

Leer en Español: Latinoamérica en contra de bebidas azucaradas

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that in Latin America obesity is rising. According to its most recent data, the stoutness in the region is killing more people than "drug trafficking, crime, violence, and conflict".

**FAO: obesity is killing more people than "drug trafficking, crime, violence and conflicts" in the region.**

FAO assured that one third of teenagers and two thirds of adults in the region are overweight. The UN institution blames this on the fact that healthy, organic food is commonly more expensive than junk food. For this reason, Latin American governments are discussing the possibility of imposing taxes on soft drinks in the hopes to reduce their intake.


Argentineans consume high levels of soft drinks. According to the WHO and Unicef, each Argentinean consumes 133 liters of non-alcoholic beverages per year. Despite the alarming rate, the Government hasn't approved any measure to decrease its numbers.


The Andean country is competing with Argentina for the #1 spot when it comes to the intake of sweet beverages. Despite the increase in prices back in 2014, the purchasing power of the Chilean household increased making their ability to purchase soft drinks a reality.


Last year, during a tax reform initiative, the Public Health Ministry asked to increase the taxes on soft drinks. The Government wanted to increase its price by nearly 10 US cents per liter.

However, due to the pressure of business groups and lobbying, Congress didn't approve of the measure; it refused to tax these products because "they are not the only thing that cause health problems".


Last year, the South American country implemented a new tax norm to soft drinks and beers, among others. The bill was approved with 94 votes in favor and 29 against. The new duty seeks to tax $0.18 cents each 100-sugar grams of liter. The government hopes to collect US$ 450 million in 2017.


Mexico also created a health tax on soft drinks. In 2014, the country applied a US$0.05 per liter tax on every beverage. According to research done by North Carolina University and the Public Health National Institute of Mexico, the purchase of the sugary drinks decreased by 7.9% in the first 2 years.


The Panamanian Congress is discussing taxing said drinks. The bill tries to reduce the intake of the beverages and improving public health. According to the project, 25% of the collected money will go to the Health ministry for prevention campaigns and treatment of diabetic patients. The rest of the funds will go to the National Oncologic Institute for the acquisition of equipment to treat patients and to train health professionals.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto