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Simulating International Tax Designs on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in Mexico


Salgado Hernández, Juan Carlos & Ng, Shu Wen (2021). Simulating International Tax Designs on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in Mexico. PLOS ONE, 16(8), e0253748. PMCID: PMC8375996


In response to the high prevalence of overweight and obesity, Mexico implemented a volumetric tax of one Mexican peso (MP) per liter of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) in 2014. In contrast to Mexico's volumetric tax design, the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa (ZA) implemented SSB taxes based on sugar density. This kind of tax is likely to yield larger health benefits than volumetric taxes by imposing a larger tax burden on high-sugar SSB and/or encouraging reformulation. However, sugar-density taxes might yield lower tax revenues. This study aims to simulate the effect of sugar-density taxes as those in the UK and ZA on SSB purchases (in terms of volume and sugar), SSB prices, and tax revenue in Mexico and compare this effect to its counterpart under the current volumetric SSB tax. Additionally, we simulate the effect of sugar-density taxes under different scenarios of reformulation. We conducted all these simulations based on a structural model of demand and supply using household purchase data for 2012-2015 in urban Mexico. We found that the current volumetric one-MP tax led to an SSB purchase reduction of 19% for both volume and sugar and an SSB price increases by MP $1.24. We simulated similar effects under the UK and ZA sugar-density taxes when these taxes were equivalent to the volumetric one-MP tax, and there was no reformulation. When assuming reformulation, the sugar reduction under the sugar-density taxes was up to twice larger than the volumetric one-MP tax. However, we found that the volumetric one-MP tax yielded the largest tax revenue across all tax designs. From a public health perspective, sugar-density taxes are likely to be more effective in tackling the overweight and obesity prevalence in Mexico; however, tax revenue might be lower under these taxes.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title



Salgado Hernández, Juan Carlos
Ng, Shu Wen

Article Type




Data Set/Study

Nielsen Mexico Consumer Panel Sevice




Ng - 0000-0003-0582-110X