HealthDay News — Implementation of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a sustained reduction in purchases of taxed beverages, according to a study published online in Health Affairs.

Noting that Mexico implemented a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages on January 1, 2014, M. Arantxa Cochero, PhD, from the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and colleagues estimated changes in beverage purchases for 2014 and 2015 using store purchase data for 6,645 households from January 2012 to December 2015. Using 2 models, the authors estimated the changes in purchases of taxed and untaxed beverages in the study period, comparing 2014 and 2015 purchases with predicted purchases based on trends in 2012 to 2013.

The researchers observed a 5.5% decrease in the purchase of taxed beverages in 2014 and a 9.7% decrease in 2015, resulting in an average decrease of 7.6%. In both years, the largest decreases in purchases of taxed beverages were seen for households at the lowest socioeconomic level. During the study period there was a 2.1% increase in purchases of untaxed beverages.

“Findings from Mexico may encourage other countries to use fiscal policies to reduce consumption of unhealthy beverages along with other interventions to reduce the burden of chronic disease,” the authors write.

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Cochero MA, Rivera-Dommarco J, Popkin BM, Ng SW. In Mexico, evidence of sustained consumer response two years after implementing a sugar-sweetened beverage tax [published online February 17, 2017]. Health Affairs. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1231