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In the worldwide fight against the obesity epidemic, governments, corporations, and public advocacy groups are banding together to try to shape public policy. So much money has been pumped into the fight with little to show for it, causing some people to ask, “is the war on obesity even worth fighting?”. Denmark, on the other hand, is fighting back in a big way. The Danish government recently approved a tax on foods containing high levels of saturated fat.
“The tax is a complex one, in which rates will correspond with the percentage of fat in a product. The value of the tax is about $3.00 for every 2.2 pounds of saturated fat. For example, a burger will increase in price by about $0.15, and a small package of butter could cost around $0.40 more under the new plan.”
Although it seems like this is a good idea to some folks, I would argue that this policy is a big problem for a few reasons:
- Dietary fat isn’t the problem. Abdominal fat is. Eating fat does not cause diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Eating a high fat diet doesn’t even make you fat. In fact, a diet high in carbs has been shown to contribute to lifestyle diseases because a diet high in carbs is a big factor in storing excess abdominal fat.
- National organizations can’t even decide on what is healthy and what is not. Although I cannot speak for the Danish government, I do know that the American government has a hard time deciding what is good for us to eat and what is bad for us to eat. If they cannot decide, then how can they legislate taxes on specific types of food?
- Healthy eatings habits should be incentivized rather than punishing citizens for unhealthy habits. Although I disagree with the “fat tax” that the Danish government has just instated, I do think that money is a great motivator for the general public when it comes to food choices. Unfortunately in America, the poorest tend to eat the worst types of foods for many reasons, including food availability and affordability issues. Let’s not tax them more. Instead, how about incentivizing healthy eating behavior? Tax breaks for individuals who purchase healthy foods sounds like a better idea to me, especially after reviewing my weekly grocery bill.
What do you think about Denmark’s new “fat tax”?
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