Fatty Foods? Pay For It!

In what may be a trend of the future,  Denmark has decided to impose a tax based on the amount of fats in a particular food. The basis behind this is apparently to make the population eat less fatty foods, in an attempt to increase the life expectancy of Danes.

How it works is that a surcharge(“Fat Tax“) is placed on foods high in saturated fat. Butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food will all be subject to the levy. The tax amounts to 16 kroner (about USD 3 ) per kilogram of saturated fat in a product.

“Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,” health minister Jakob Axel Nielsen said when he introduced the idea in 2009, because “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

The hazard of being obese!

The idea isn’t that original really – last month, Hungary introduced a new tax popularly known as the “Hamburger Law,” but that only involves higher taxes on soft drinks, pastries, salty snacks and food flavorings.In the UK last year, news reports raised the possibility of inposing VAT (currently 17.5%) on foods high in fat(currently there is no VAT on foods).

My view on this is that, as far as foods are concerned, it is equally important to cut down on salt and sugar as well, so does that mean taxes need to be imposed on food in general? The other point is whether the sole objective of prolonging life alone is adequate when many agree quality of life is just as important.

One response

  1. Hi!

    Well, it looks like they’d like to do this in the UK now too (http://goo.gl/s7Yee).

    The only way such a policy could work is if the tax on fatty foods took the price above that of low-fat foods. This will not happen as, generally, low-fat alternatives of the same sort of food are more expensive.

    Alternatively, policy-makers might be hoping for people to switch the ‘type’ of food they eat – from pizzas to salads. This won’t happen either as the extra utility gained from eating a pizza instead of a salad will not be removed by the tax.

    Essentially I see this as a waste of time that will only punish the poorest in society.

    (see discussion on another blog post: http://goo.gl/ilCWv)

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