Sweetened beverages, particularly soda, are packed with tablespoons of sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

And often, it's paired with "natural" caramel color, phosphoric acid and caffeine. For these reasons, health officials identified soda as a key contributor to obesity and diabetes in adults and children in Mexico.

Last year, a soda tax was instituted in Mexico, curbing the consumption of soda and encouraging the ingestion of natural juices and water. The effectiveness of this tax prompted many in the U.S. public health sector to ponder if a similar tactic in the U.S. could drive healthier habits and reduce obesity rates.

Mexico surpassed the U.S. when it comes to obesity and diabetes, seizing the title "The World's Fattest Country." Obesity and diabetes mounted in the nation, and numbers revealed that 1-in-6 Mexican adults developed soda. Nearly a half-million people died from diabetes-related complications between 2006 and 2012, and diabetes increased nearly 60 percent from the previous six-year period.

Fifty percent of Mexico's population drinks soda once each day, and 3.6 million Mexican adults and children drink cans of Coca-Cola each day. Research shows that even the poorest families will still spend money on soda and sugary beverages, rather than unsweetened or naturally sweetened beverages.

Both Mexico and the U.S. can partially blame its weight concerns on the consumption of sweetened beverages, and the number of diseases and conditions associated with obesity doubled in recent decades. Individuals of all ages regularly, across the board (and border), enjoy soda with at least one meal each day, complementing meals that are already overflowing with calories, saturated fat and high cholesterol.

In a recent interview with Dr. Aliza A. Lifshitz, "even the poorest of the poor will spend money on soda" in Mexico. The Nutritional Health Alliance in Mexico and other organizations reacted against soda companies, like Coca-Cola, which recently launched a Christmas marketing campaign entitled "Make Someone Happy." Over 12 percent of deaths from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity-related cancers in Mexico can be credited to sweetened drink consumption. 

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto approved the sweetened beverage tax in late 2013 after years of encouragement from national health experts to stub diabetes rates. Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his foundation gave Mexico $10 million, in three-year funding, to combat obesity and endorse the drink tax effort. On Jan. 1, 2014, the company added 1 peso (about 7 cents) to the price of a liter of sugary refreshment.

Already, just one year later, preliminary data shows soda consumption is dipping. And as early as March 2014, there was a 10 percent dip in sugary drink consumption when compared to the year before. Coca-Cola Femsa, Mexico's largest soft drink bottler, experienced a drink sales drop by 6.4 percent. And Arca-Continental's drink sales slipped by 4.7 percent in Mexico during the same time.

Similar taxes have been placed on cigarettes and alcohol in the past, showing that sweetened refreshments, like alcohol, are a vice. And because of the taxes put in place, the parents of Mexico are more aware of the dangers of sugary refreshments being dispensed to their children. Parents and schools alike opted to administer plain water and lower-fat milk, in lieu of sugary soda and juice.  Also, there's a growing awareness of harm caused by processed foods.

Ecuador, Chile and Peru have instituted similar taxes in the past, encouraging Mexico to do the same. And similar taxes have been proposed in the U.S. but faced serious opposition, despite the fact two-in-three Americans are obese or overweight and 29 million people (9.3 percent) are diabetic. In the past, U.S. voters struck down 30 efforts in various cities to implement beverage taxes. Many Americans insist taxes are a bad idea, even though two-thirds have stated they'd like to avoid soda in their taxes, and a half said they'd avoid sugar.

Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, publicly stated that sugary drink taxes are "discriminatory and regressive," and soft drink companies tend to aggressively target low-income families. He believes that taxing beverages could prompt the intake of low-or no-calorie products. And this could go a long a way to producing healthier Americans, particularly as beverage companies have stated that they hoped to reduce each person's drink calories by 20 percent by 2025. 

In Mexico, the new tax has determined to challenge the 32.8 percent obesity rate. Annually, Mexico's 118 million people drink 163 liters of soda each day, but the 10 percent tax could reduce that to 141 liters and prevent up to 630,000 cases of diabetes by 2030.

Should soda be taxed in the U.S. to curb obesity and diabetes in the U.S?