OZY Video: Soda Pop Showdown in Mexico

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Why you should care

Because there must be a sweet spot between sugar and taxes.

With obesity rates topping 30 percent, the U.S. and Mexico compete for the dubious status of fattest — and most diabetic — country in the world. But on one battlefield, Mexico has won: In 2013, it passed a nationwide one-peso-per-liter tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Public health experts tend to see soda as “low-hanging fruit,” ripe for elimination from people’s diets, and Mexico’s tax aims not only to reduce soda consumption but also to support public health and clean water initiatives.

Does it work?

In the second installment of our conversation with Marion Nestle, professor of food studies, nutrition and public health at New York University and author of Food Politics, we examine the Mexican soda battlefield — and the surprising forces that fueled tax advocates against the soda industry’s best efforts to thwart it. We also consider why so-called “sin taxes” on sodas and sugary drinks are slow to catch on in the U.S. And in the next segment of the series, we’ll explore how one city in the U.S. did pass a soda tax — and how it is working.

* Correction: Berkeley was the first city in the U.S. to pass a soda tax. Several states had levied soda taxes — but for revenue purposes, not health ones.

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