Price elasticity of the demand for sugar sweetened beverages and soft drinks in Mexico

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Abstract

A large and growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that sugar drinks are harmful to health. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is a risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Mexico has one of the largest per capita consumption of soft drinks worldwide and high rates of obesity and diabetes. Fiscal approaches such as taxation have been recommended as a public health policy to reduce SSB consumption. We estimated an almost ideal demand system with linear approximation for beverages and high-energy food by simultaneous equations and derived the own and cross price elasticities for soft drinks and for all SSB (soft drinks, fruit juices, fruit drinks, flavored water and energy drinks). Models were stratified by income quintile and marginality index at the municipality level. Price elasticity for soft drinks was −1.06 and −1.16 for SSB, i.e., a 10% price increase was associated with a decrease in quantity consumed of soft drinks by 10.6% and 11.6% for SSB. A price increase in soft drinks is associated with larger quantity consumed of water, milk, snacks and sugar and a decrease in the consumption of other SSB, candies and traditional snacks. The same was found for SSB except that an increase in price of SSB was associated with a decrease in snacks. Higher elasticities were found among households living in rural areas (for soft drinks), in more marginalized areas and with lower income. Implementation of a tax to soft drinks or to SSB could decrease consumption particularly among the poor. Substitutions and complementarities with other food and beverages should be evaluated to assess the potential impact on total calories consumed.

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