Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at it again, stirring up controversy and attempting to tackle obesity on an international level. Bloomberg’s foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has delivered a three-year $ 10 million grant to Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health to be used for advertising and research promoting the fight against obesity. In correlation with this support, President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed a “soda tax”, a tax on the sale of all sugary drinks, and factions from all over the spectrum have joined the debate on the issue. On one side of the debate are public health proponents and experts, and on the other side are the goliath soft drink and bottling companies, as well as the internal sugar cane farmers and neighborhood storeowners.
While Bloomberg is not the whole story, it is interesting that after his failed attempt at banning 16 oz. sodas in New York, he is now trying again in a different way. All I know is I hope to not see Mr. Bloomberg sipping on a soda on a beach in Mexico. Approximately 70% of the Mexican population is overweight, similar to the United States. The Bloomberg Philanthrophy Foundation sees this model of funding and support as one that can be used in many other countries if successful in this attempt at Mexico. A researcher in the Health Economy Department of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico estimates that a 10 percent tax on sugary drinks would reduce consumption by 10-13 percent and reduce the overall rate of obesity. I personally think there is nothing wrong with what Bloomberg is doing. If he wants to donate money to institutions combatting unhealthy behavior, then that is not a bad way to spend his money. Additionally, while it is unfortunate if this tax will affect the livelihood of some Mexican workers, I do not think the tax will have a big enough impact on the industry to displace a large portion of workers. What do you think?