Tuesday, October 04, 2011

World's First "Fat Tax"

Denmark just imposed a tax on foods that contain more than 2.3% saturated fat.

"Butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food are now subject to the tax if they contain more than 2.3% saturated fat."
“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, according to The Associated Press, because “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
Saturated fats cause cancer? I'd be more inclined to believe other things in food like arsenic cause cancer. Saturated fat ... our body manufactures it.
“We get the taxes, but never a reduction on anything to complement the increases, such as on healthy foods,” said Clausen.
Boy, I agree with that. If you really care about keeping your population fit, subsidize produce. Dan Flynn over at Food Safety News reports, "a Belgian lawmaker said fat taxes would not change consumer eating habits, but "only fill the treasury."

Dan Flynn at Food Safety News:
"Taxes on food are among the most regressive in that they apply to commodities that must be purchased by low-income households."
That's why I'm against taxing food, any food ... soda, butter, sugar, chocolate. Soon we'll be taxing lettuce because of the health impact of consuming a food that's increasingly contaminated with toxic bacteria.


Dr. Mel said...

I don't know what to say. I suppose the tax is not as much about the food as it is about the burden on the healthcare system of paying for morbidly obese patients or those w/ heart disease caused by food choices. But I totally agree w/ you re toxins in foods as culprits in cancer & other diseases.

Dr. Mel said...

I do remember reading some years ago that Scandinavia had a much higher death rate from heart disease than most countries or areas b/c of their very high consumption of full-fat dairy products. Who knows whether that's true or not?

Bix said...

There is a burden from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer ... the chronic conditions. A morbidity burden as well as an economic burden. I sure don't know a solution. But I don't like seeing the cost disproportionately carried by lower-income groups. If the tax goes to rectifying this problem at all.

The UN has finally taken up the issue of chronic disease:

UN General Assembly 2011 High Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases

I'm glad to see them say, "improving dietary habits is a societal problem."

Bix said...

I'm still on the fence about where dietary fat fits in as a risk factor. The fat itself, I can't see it's a problem. But the quantity may be.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know why the consumers are the ones that have to pay the extra tax why not make the manufacturers pay the fat tax if they want to produce foods that are unhealthy for people. Seems to me if they have to pay the tax they will have to start making more healthy foods same goes for alcohol and tobacco why don't they have to pay the extra taxes instead of the consumers who are addicted to the stuff because they produced it and made it available for people to buy it.

Bix said...

I meant to get back to this last comment...

According to Flynn's report:

The "tax is applied on the amount used in the process of making food, not in how much is actually in the product ready for the consumer."

Does that sound like it is the manufacturer who is being taxed? So, companies must be passing their extra costs to consumers?

Bix said...

Another thought about saturated fat...

It's often provided in our diets via animal food - cheese and meats. Animal fats tend to accumulate fat-soluble chemicals - pesticides, plastics and the like. It may not be the fat per se that's linked to disease, but the compounds in the fat.