Fat Tax, Slim Hope?

Denmark Taxes Fatty Products
by Richard Orange of the Daily Telegraph (link here

The move may increase pressure for a similar tax in the UK, which suffers from the highest levels of obesity in Europe.

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.

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.

Hungary at the start of this month imposed a tax is 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 10pc of Danes are clinically obese, putting them slightly below the European average.

But researchers at Denmark’s Institute for Food and Economic estimate that close to 4pc of the country’s premature deaths are a result of excess consumption of saturated fats.

For Britain, where more than 20pc of the population is obese, the number will be considerably higher.

A 2007 study by Mr Rayner’s group concluded that a combination of taxes on healthy foods and tax breaks on fruit and vegetables could save 3,200 lives a year in the UK.

Health Minister Andrew Lansley has up until now resisted calls for taxes on unhealthy foods, but Mr Rayner said they were the only credible way to combat Britain’s obesity problem.

“I think we’re going to have them in Britain whether Mr Lansley wants them or not, because the obesity crisis in the UK is such that we need to take more action.

What are your thoughts? Do you think we need a government legislation to save us from our own poor eating habits? Should Singapore have a similar tax? (maybe on products with high sodium instead?)

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