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Objective: To evaluate the potential signaling effect of the Mexican tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by analyzing the association between awareness of and opinions about its effectiveness with current consumption of taxed SSBs and with a self-reported change in consumption of SSBs since the implementation of the tax. We also examined the association between psychosocial and environmental determinants of SSB consumption with current consumption of taxed SSBs and with a reported change in consumption of SSBs.

Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of survey and food-frequency questionnaire data from the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2016. Participants were Mexican adults (20–59 years, N = 6,650). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the probability of a person reporting a decrease in SSB consumption, given their awareness of the tax, opinion about its effectiveness, psychosocial (SSB health-related beliefs, self-efficacy, and liking of SSBs) and environmental (availability of potable water) determinants. Multiple linear regression analysis was utilized to examine the association between the aforementioned factors and current consumption of taxed SSBs.

Results: Compared with adults not aware, adults who were aware of the SSB tax were more likely (OR = 1.30) to report a decrease in SSB consumption (p = .012). In urban areas, adults aware of the tax drank a significantly lower amount of taxed SSBs (-15.7%; p = .023) than those not aware. Self-efficacy and liking of SSBs were significantly associated with a reported decrease in consumption and with current consumption (p < .001), while health beliefs and availability of potable water were not significantly associated with either reported change in SSB consumption or current consumption of taxed SSBs.

Conclusions: Implementation of an SSB tax accompanied by highly visible campaigns may further influence the impact of taxes on SSBs consumption. Future public health and nutrition education campaigns designed to increase knowledge and enhance motivation should be complemented by programs to assist individuals develop self-efficacy and self-regulation skills.

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PLoS ONE, v. 13, issue 8, art. e0199337