Denmark Fat Tax To Improve Life Expectancy

Denmark levies the first fat tax in an effort to improve their life expectancy. Unlike the sin tax, which is alcohol and tobacco, the country wants to curb unhealthy eating habits. Citizens will pay 12 cents more for a bag of chips and an additional 40 cents for a hamburger.

The fax tax levies will begin Saturday and will be imposed on any foods that contain more then 2.3% of saturated fat. Examples of some of these foods include cream, cheese, butter, suet, tallow, lard, and meats. It also includes certain vegetable products such as coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, chocolate, and many prepared meals.

The measure is not aimed at curbing obesity. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the obesity rate in Denmark was 13.4% last year, below the European average of 15.5%. However, the country lags in lifespan, and the country hopes the measure will increase the average lifespan by three years over the next decade.

“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, because the bad food ingredients can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Denmark had already outlawed most of the saturated diets, which doctors say raise bad cholesterol and lower the good. The law was passed in March of this year.

“It’s the first ever fat-tax,” said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, who has long campaigned for taxes on unhealthy foods. “It’s very interesting. We haven’t had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real.”