The country that tops per capita world consumption of Coca-Cola products is pondering a soda tax.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed a tax on sugary beverages to rein in obesity as part of a larger reform effort unveiled Sunday. If the proposal were to become law, Mexicans would pay an extra peso -- about 7.6 cents -- per liter, according to McClatchy newspapers.
The tax would net the Mexican government $900 million in revenue, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The proposal to tax sugary drinks came as part of a broader reform package originally expected to address only tax policy. Instead, however, Peña Nieto pitched a wide-ranging expansion of the country’s social programs to be financed by cutting tax loopholes that benefit large companies.
"The tax reform is a social policy reform," Pena Nieto said in a speech announcing his plan, the Associated Press reports.
Mexicans drink more Coca-Cola products per capita than people from any other country in the world, at average of 728 8-ounce drinks per year in 2011, compared to 403 per year for Americans, according to McClatchy.
Coca-Cola de Mexico criticized the proposal to tax sugary drinks in a statement reported by Agence France Presse, saying "a tax on beverages is ineffective to combat a problem as complex as obesity."
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola's Mexico office told the Wall Street Journal last month that the company's drinks are "healthy and can be integrated into a correct diet, combined with an active lifestyle."
The news comes amid increased international attention to the issue of obesity in Mexico -- a problem that many scientists attribute at least in part to the growing prevalence of sodas and cheap snack foods.
Obesity in the Latin American country has surpassed that in the United States, according to a report released by the U.N. in June. The report, based on figures from 2008, placed the Mexican adult obesity rate at 32.8 percent, overtaking the U.S. figure of 31.8 percent.
Obesity specialist Kelly Brownell at Duke University told Reuters prior to Peña Nieto’s proposal that curbing soda consumption made sense as a policy option, given the scientific evidence. “The strongest scientific link between any category of food and obesity is with sugared beverages,” Brownell said, according to Reuters. “If you’re going to address obesity, you need to begin somewhere, and why not begin where the science is strongest?”
A public interest group launched an anti-soda public health campaign this summer, featuring images of diabetic amputees.
Some 15 percent of Mexicans over the age of 20 suffer from adult-onset diabetes, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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Mexico creates jobs
Our southern neighbor buys more of our products than any country other than Canada. Some 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, <a href="http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/working-together-economic-ties-between-the-united-states-and-mexico" target="_blank">according to the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute</a>.
Mexico's economy is growing
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Mexico has more professional elections than the United States
According to Robert A. Pastor, a professor and co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University who has observed Mexican elections since 1986, the Mexican system is more professional, non-partisan and independent than the American one.
Mexico gave us chocolate
Along with corn, avocados, chili peppers, tequila and many other awesome foods.
Mexico has amazing cultural diversity
While Mexico may be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, that's not the only language spoken in the country. More than <a href="http://www.history.com/topics/mexico/page4" target="_blank">60 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico</a>.
It's the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world
With a population of 112 million, Mexico is the country with the most Spanish speakers in the world.
Mexico City is massive
If size impresses you, you’ll probably admire Mexico City. <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2097720_2097772_2097769,00.html" target="_blank">With around 20.5 million inhabitants</a>, it sits among the world’s largest cities. And it’s massiveness has a long history -- when the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century in Tenochtitlán, the heart of the Aztec empire where Mexico City currently stands, it may <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=BIQLMYyfHncC&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=tenochtitlan+larger+than+london&source=bl&ots=tdYDzvdqFE&sig=yNHV_7jhHxdEFlvfb4zzDRFBIzo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AZinUeD6CeLL0AHSjICADw&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=tenochtitlan%20larger%20than%20london&f=false" target="_blank">have been the largest urban area in the world</a>.
Mexico has awesome tourism
Beaches? Ancient ruins? Mountains? Cultural diversity? Awesome food? Mexico's got it all.
It's not as violent as you may think
As we’ve pointed out before, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/13-places-more-violence-mexico_n_2201941.html" target="_blank">Mexico's murder rate isn't particularly high by Latin American standards</a>. Mexico had a murder rate of 23.7 per 100,000 residents in 2011, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. That's about equal to Brazil's and roughly half as high as Detroit. Plenty of places in the region have higher murder rates -- including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.
Mexico has a thriving film industry
Many Americans are already familiar with crossover successes like Gael García Bernal, Salma Hayek and director Guillermo del Toro. But those stars account for just a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-17112066" target="_blank">small fraction of a booming industry</a>.
Home to some of the oldest civilizations of the Americas
Mexico's first major civilization, the Olmecs, <a href="http://www.history.com/topics/mexico" target="_blank">established themselves by around 1200 BC</a>.