Denmark introduces the first fat tax in the world

October 23, 2011

Denmark is starting to apply what could be the world’s first fat food tax, imposing a surcharge to foods which use more than 2.3 percent saturated fats in its composition. This new policy represents an effort to combat obesity and heart disease, besides improving children nutrition.

Foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat will be levied by the new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds), which has caused some Danes to be not so very satisfied. Although the Danish do not have a high rate of grossly overweight people, 10 per cent are considered obese in contrast to the numbers from the U.S., some not only understand this tax like a movement to control their nutrition choices but also believe that the taxes in their country are becoming too high: Denmark increased taxes on soft drinks, tobacco and alcohol products, beyond the minimum levels established by the EU.

According to The Associated Press, these are the words that Jakob Axel Nielsen, health minister, delivered when he introduced the idea in 2009: “Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way towards a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,” because “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

Alisa Clausen, a South Jutland resident, suggested an interesting proposal: “We get the taxes, but never a reduction on anything to complement the increases, such as on healthy foods,” she said. Following this simple and easy suggestion, maybe the food and beverage industry would not be so uncomfortable with the fat tax. "It's very frustrating how this has been implemented," says Poul Pedersen, managing director of Thise Mejeri, an organic dairy cooperative based in northern Denmark.

Fortunately, bottled water helps improve health!

                                                                                                                                                                                    Photo credits