Published on October 24th, 2011 | by Sonya Kanelstrand
Scandinavia Leads the Way to Fat Taxing
Since the beginning of October, Denmark has become the first country in the world to introduce fat tax in regard to the unhealthily eating part of its population. In the name of reducing cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, the tax will affect saturated fats found in animal products like butter, cream, and meat, as well as in processed and junk food.
The tax is complex and its rates correspond with the percentage of fat in a product leading to an increase of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product. The tax will be applied to any food product that has a saturated fat content of more than 2.3%.
According to the food director at Denmark’s Confederation of Industry, Ole Linnet Juul, the tax will increase the price of a burger by around $0.15 and raise the price of a small package of butter by around $0.40.
This is one of the first steps on a government level in the direction of conscious control of the growing obesity problem in the world. Denmark is closely followed by France, as the country introduces a tax on sugary drinks like Coca-Cola. France also recently introduced a ban on using ketchup and mayonnaise in schools. In September, Hungary introduced a new tax popularly known as the “Hamburger Law,” introducing higher taxes on soft drinks, pastries, salty snacks and food flavorings.
According to Wikipedia, scientific research has shown that taxing soft drinks and pizza can decrease the amount of calories that people consume from these foods. It has also found that a 10% tax on soda led to a 7% reduction in calories from soft drinks, and a 10% tax on pizza led to a 12% reduction in calories from pizza. It is believed that an 18% tax on these foods could cut daily intake by 56 calories per person, resulting in a weight loss of 5 pounds (2 kg) per person per year.
Scandinavian countries have traditionally high taxes on alcohol and tobacco and know that heavy taxing reduces consumption. But will that be the case with junk and fatty foods? The fat tax has been met with major approval but it has received criticisms as well by people who think that the government is only looking for additional ways to tax its people.
Do you think the fat tax can do the job in your country as well?
[Hamburger photo via Shutterstock]