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A Fat Tax In Denmark – Should It Happen In The U.S.?

A Fat Tax In Denmark – Should It Happen In The U.S.?


No, it’s not a tax on fat people, but on food containing saturated fats.

Beginning today, October 1, Denmark is imposing the world’s first “fat tax” in a drive to make its population slimmer and healthier.

Taxes On Butter, Chips, Hamburger Meat

Here’s how The Telegraph describes the tax:

Starting from this Saturday, Danes will pay an extra 30p on each pack of butter, 8p on a pack of crisps, and an extra 13p on a pound of mince, as a result of the tax. (That’s 46 cents, 13 cents, and 20 cents respectively.)

The tax is expected to raise about 2.2bn Danish Krone (£140m), and cut consumption of saturated fat by close to 10pc, and butter consumption by 15pc.

“It’s the first ever fat-tax,” said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, who has long campaigned for taxes on unhealthy foods.

“It’s very interesting. We haven’t had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real.” The tax will be levied at 2.5 per Kg of saturated fat and will be levied at the point of sale from wholesalers to retailers.

What About Food Loaded With Sugar, Carbs, Salt?

But wait. I understand what they’re trying to do, and it’s not a bad idea, but hopefully the Danish government understands that saturated fats are not the only foods making people overweight and sick?

How about all the foods that are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates and salt? Alarmed by the popularity of these foods, Hungary at the beginning of September† imposed a tax on all packaged foods containing unhealthy levels of sugar, salt and carbohydrates, as well as products containing more than 20 milligrams of caffeine per 100 milliliters of the product.

Less Than 10 Percent Of Danes Are Obese – Compared To 34 Percent In The U.S.

Less than 10 percent of Danes are clinically obese, putting them slightly below the European average. In Britain, however, more than 20 percent of the population is obese. That’s the highest level of obesity in Europe, but in the United States a shocking 34 percent of the adult population suffers from obesity.

If this tax is successful in lowering the consumption of saturated fats in Denmark, maybe we should try it in the United States.

What do you think? Could a fat tax work in the United States?


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9:04AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Jenna, McDonalds is already rather expensive food compared to what you could provide for yourself. The same is true of any restaurant. People pay the premium anyways, for convenience. Are we going to say that a Big Mac is like a pack of cigarettes and gouge the Bic Mac consumer, until McDonalds is run out of the country? (That's assuming McDs couldn't mount a legal defense, and a lobbying effort, which they would, and they'd win.)

I have family members who are finding that wheat is a major "bad health" portion of their diet. They've given it up; one's arthritis disappeared, the other had a substantially lowered glycemic index in their bloodwork. Big improvements for ditching something fundamental to the American palette. One theory is the wheat is not genetically the same as what our ancestors ate, and that the change is bad. I think you could find these unhealthy quirks in most of the staples of the American food supply, affecting huge numbers of people if not everyone.

When will the taxation and feeble attempts to control end? When will you be responsible for eating your own veggies and not stuffing yourself with crap that makes your guts feel bad or whatever?

8:55AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Various foods already cost lots of money, for instance cheese, which is mostly fat. Unless the taxation rate is gougingly high, as we see for gasoline and cigarettes, it's not going to influence people's buying behavior much. People already fork over for more expensive foods when they could eat more cheaply, i.e. a steak, or beef instead of chicken. A gouging tax on any part of the food supply is unethical, possibly even unconstitutional if it's overly broad, like "fats." So I don't see it happening in the USA.

12:16PM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

What can be done to get people to eat more healthy for their own good? They have tried educating, encouraging, reality weight -loss shows, and still we overeat +++++. Even bullying and shock treatment has not worked. Maybe taxing fat will help.

10:19AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

I've felt forever that there should be a heavy tax on fast food restaurant consumption. While people can argue for or against the health benefits of butter and other saturated fats, I doubt anyone would seriously argue that McDonalds offered anything remotely resembling healthy food. The cost to society of the "mcdiet" is enormous; a fast food tax could help pay for America's growing health problems.

7:04AM PST on Dec 24, 2011

hahaha thats funny; unfortunately they have control of what "they" think is fattening..butter is needed and hasnt the chemicals margarine has..butter is needed, now babies milk? Education better, not cheaper apparently. Some people only have money for those foods...Next...good luck and peace..Happy healthy holidays..shakes head..

4:34AM PST on Dec 24, 2011

I say no to a fat tax for many reasons.
1. Adding taxes does not lower consumption. It does put more money into political pockets where it gets abused.
2. Doctors told us that egg yolks were very bad for us. Now it turns out that the yolk contains all of the good nutrition in eggs and that they do not add to bad cholesterol. Now there are doctors who are saying saturated fats aren't the culprits - it's over-processed foods and grains.
Frankly, I see these "sin taxes" as punishment. We are frustrated by people who refuse to eat healthy so we punish them by making their sinful way more expensive. Guess what? It hasn't worked and it just lines politicians pockets.

5:27AM PDT on Oct 16, 2011

Megan S.

I was at a medical conference in Athens, Greece yesterday. At the end of a lecture on obesity, I saw that very same picture.

2:11AM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

Obesity is a serious health hazard in Greece, as well. I agree with the tax.

12:00AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Exactly, Colleen. They ran the same photo in three different articles recently, and that wasn't just an isolated situation. They use the same ones over and over, and I'm betting whoever this photo was taken of gave their consent. I find it amazing that people that look like this think they are just "fine" and everyone else should just accept them for who they are and deal with it. Well, if they're comfortable with themselves, fine, but the point is that nobody looks like what is in this photo without eating the wrong foods or too much of them. 20 lbs. overweight is one thing, but not 200 lbs. overweight.

3:26PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011 look what I find.

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