Exploring perceptions of the Mexican sugar-sweetened beverage tax among adolescents in North West Mexico: a qualitative study

Ana Ortega Avila, Angeliki Papadaki, Russ Jago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Objective: To explore awareness and perceptions of the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax implemented in Mexico in 2014 among a sample of Mexican adolescents, and to investigate how the tax has affected their purchases and intake of SSBs.

Design: Qualitative.

Setting: Semi-structured interviews were conducted in April–May 2016. The data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Subjects: Adolescents residing in North West Mexico (n=29, 55.2% females), aged 15–19 years.

Results: Four main themes emerged: awareness of taxation, perceptions of how the tax has affected SSB intake, reasons why the tax was not perceived to have affected SSB intake and preferences for substitution of the taxed SSBs. Participants were mostly unaware of the tax and perceived that it would not cause reductions in their intake of SSBs; they felt that the price increase was low and insufficient to affect intake. Taste preferences and ‘addiction’ to SSBs were highlighted as the main reasons why participants perceived taxation would not affect intake. If SSB prices were to increase further via a higher tax, participants would consider substituting SSBs with other beverages, namely home-made drinks (e.g. 100% fruit juices), non-caloric, instant-flavoured drinks and water.

Conclusions: These findings provide important insights into the views of this sample of Mexican adolescents regarding the taxation of SSBs, by pointing out several possible limitations of the tax policy in Mexico. These results could inform the design of future interventions directed at Mexican youth that would complement and strengthen the current SSB taxation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date24 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Oct 2017


  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • adolescents
  • qualitative methodology
  • sugar tax
  • Mexico

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