Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Danish Fat Tax

Just this month, Denmark instituted a "fat tax" of 16 Danish kroner per kilogram of saturated fat in a food (about $1.29 per pound of saturated fat) which is added to the price when the saturated fat content of a food item is greater than 2.3%. This tax will affect the price of foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils, and meats. Although this may seem like a particularly extreme measure in the fight against obesity and  heart disease, this is in keeping with other regulations imposed by the country, including the banning of trans fats from all foods (which some researchers have credited with reducing rates of cardiovascular disease in the last few years by 30%) and increased taxes on sugary foods, alcohol, and tobacco.

Jakob Axel Nielsen, the health minister in 2009, stated “higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark.”  Overall, the Danish parliament seemed to agree, with nearly 90% of the members in approval of the tax.

Not everyone outside of parliament is quite as supportive. Many organic dairy farmers are complaining that the increase in taxes will make it increasingly difficult for people to opt for organic products.  The current tax makes no distinction between a product like organic milk and a BigMac.  Organic farmers also fear that restaurants will opt to purchase cheaper, non-organic products to keep food prices stable in their eateries.

Tricky, huh? My first thought was "Of course this tax is a good idea - we should have it here in the U.S." but I certainly can see the argument on the side of the organic diary producers (although I myself abstain from a lot of dairy as I see it as a health threat)...but it does seem somewhat Orwellian to have the government come down like Big Brother and start stipulating what people should eat...then again if healthcare is through the government and health costs start to soar because of unhealthy eating habits that affects all of the people in that country....I suppose overall, I still think the fat tax is a good idea, but I don't think something like this could possibly take hold in America for generations, unfortunately:(


  1. I think I'm for a fat tax. Fat and sugar and salt are so cheap they're in all our manufactured foods and we've lost our taste for whole foods. It'll be interesting to see if this works in Denmark.

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  3. It does sound like a tough counterpoint, but the thing to remember is that cigarette & gas taxes (alone) in the USA didn't stop people from smoking or driving, it merely gave them something to talk about!!!