Mexico's Attack On Soft Drinks is Misguided

Earlier this summer, Mexico surpassed the U.S. for a dubious honor: World's Fattest Nation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a massive (no pun intended) 70% of Mexican adults over age 20 are either overweight or obese. This infamous distinction has prompted the Mexican government to launch an offensive on soft drinks that would make Michael Bloomberg proud. Consider the following ad by Mexico's Alliance for Health Food:

Image via wsj.com

This advertisement asks its readers if they would drink 12 spoonfuls of sugar, the amount found in many soft drinks. The ad campaign is, however, merely the tip of the iceberg as many Mexican legislators are considering implementing a 20% sin tax on sodas. But they are missing the reason why Mexicans love refrescos so much.

Mexico is the world's largest consumer of Coca-Cola products. Why exactly do they love this American product?

The answer is quite simple. Soda, and its associated health risks, is better than the alternative, namely: Mexican drinking water. While "Don't drink the water in Mexico" is a recurring joke in America, one does not have to look far to see the truth behind this old adage. From Cholera outbreaks in the 1990s to last year's food-borne illness of 38 Mexican children, the country's recent history is full of events documenting the poor quality of Mexican water.

While there must be improvements to Mexico's drinking water, drinking soda is a great alternative in the meantime. Not only is it safer to drink than tap water, but it is also oftentimes free of high fructose corn syrup, unlike our sodas.

So while it is easy to depict Coca-Cola and Pepsi as heartless corporations preying on the health of innocent people, it is important for both Mexicans and outside observers to consider the many benefits of soft drinks.