Denmark has come up with an innovative way to address their obesity crisis: A tax on fatty foods.
"It's the first ever fat-tax," Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University's Health Promotion Research Group, told The Telegraph newspaper. "It's very interesting. We haven't had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real."
About 10 percent of Denmark's population is obese, which is a little less than the European average. The fat tax will tack on a fee of 2.5 kroner for every kilgogram of saturated fat in various types of products, from butter and cheese to potato chips and ground beef. It works out to a few pence per package, but there's no way for shoppers to avoid paying the tax since it'll be levied at the point of sale from wholesalers to retailers, the newspaper reported. Consumers will just see slightly higher prices at the market.
The tax is expected to increase revenue for the country while whittling away at its citizens' waistlines: officials say the small fee for fatty foods will raise about 2.2 billion Danish kroner, or about $400 million in U.S. funds. They also expect that consumption of foods with saturated fat will drop by about 10 percent, and use of butter will drop by about 15 percent-something that doesn't sit well with the Danish dairy industry, which states that milk and cheese are part of a healthy daily diet.
Officials in the United Kingdom, where 20 percent of its population is struggling with obesity, are taking a hard look at the idea, even though Health Minister Andrew Lansley opposes it.
"Nudges are very important. Tax is not a nudge, tax is a shove," Lansley told the BBC. "If you start down the route of taxation, quite often you get quite a lot of push back against that. The public don't think it's our job to be trying to tell people what to do."
But so far, Danes don't seem to mind. Charlotte Kira Kimby, a mom who used to be overweight, told the BBC that she doesn't think the new taxes are a form of "government nannying."
"We still have the same free choice to buy the things we would like to buy in the shop," she pointed out.Would you pay more to buy fatty foods? Or is an added tax on staples like butter, cheese, and meat unfair?
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