Denmark imposes a Fat Tax

In an effort to curb obesity and heart disease, Denmark is the first country in the world to impose a tax of about $3/16 Danish kroners per kilo on foods with a high fat content.  These include butter, mince meat, pizza and crisps.  The government hopes to curb consumption of the foods by ten percent.

Is it worth the trouble? Less than ten percent of the population is obese, placing them slightly below the European average, and way below most countries for example South Africa stats with around fifty-six percent of women and twenty percent of men that are overweight. Which may play a factor is stated by the Karolinska Institute that obesity and overweight people cost Denmark $2.9 billion a year. Multiply that with countries with higher obesity percentages.

Last month Hungary also imposed a tax ,but only on all packaged foods containing unhealthy levels of sugar, salt, carbohydrates and caffeine.

Prevention is indeed better than cure, but it remains to be seen whether there is a direct correlation between discouraging people to buy fatty foods and lowering obesity rates.  Especially in a well-off country like Denmark, where the population might be able to absorb the extra cost.

Health Minister Jacob Axel Nielsen stats that credits fees on sugar, fat and tobacco will help the country’s rising life expectancy, which is now 79 years old. However, a Belgian lawmaker said fat taxes would not change consumer eating habits, but “only fill the treasury.” Even with this controversy other countries ;Finland, Ireland and Romania are among EU countries that may next adopt fat taxes.

This legislative reform raises the same question as the move by certain states in the U.S to ban unhealthy foods from school cafeterias: Is the government allowed to tell us what to eat, or what to weigh? The issue becomes further complicated when interventions are made in the population’s best interest.

Well is seems that Marie Antoinette quote “let them eat cake” would be quite a costly one more then it has ever been. When exactly will countries with some of the bigger obesity percentages impose prevention of this kind? Also will this tax be liable not only in first world countries?

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