|October 2, 2011
Denmark has introduced what’s believed to be the world’s first fat food tax, applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 percent saturated fats, in an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.
Danes hoarded food before the tax went into effect Saturday, emptying grocery store shelves. Some butter lovers may even resort to stocking up during trips abroad.
The new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product will be levied on foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat.
“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.”
But some Danes are not happy about the ‘big brother’ feeling that comes with the tax.
“Denmark finds every sort of way to increase our taxes,” said Alisa Clausen, a South Jutland resident. “Why should the government decide how much fat we eat? They also want to increase the tobacco price very significantly. In theory this is good — it makes unhealthy items expensive so that we do not consume as much or any and that way the health system doesn’t use a lot of money on patients who become sick from overuse of fat and tobacco. However, these taxes take on a big brother feeling. We should not be punished by taxes on items the government decides we should not use.”