Debate: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?
October 3rd, 2011
05:25 PM ET

Debate: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

By Jack Cafferty, CNN

Hold that cheeseburger. Across the pond in Europe, Denmark is becoming the first country in the world to impose a so-called fat tax on foods high in saturated fats. That includes everything from cheeseburgers and pizza to butter, milk, cheese and oils. Many Danes stocked up on these yummy groceries before the tax went into effect his weekend. How much the "fat tax" is depends on how much saturated fat is in any given food, but it comes out to about $3 for every 2 pounds of saturated fat. Officials say the goal is to increase the average life expectancy in Denmark, since saturated fats can cause heart disease and cancer.

Denmark has been a leading country when it comes to tougher policies on unhealthy foods. They have higher taxes on sodas, cigarettes and alcohol beyond what's required by the European Union. And they've increased taxes on ice cream, chocolate and sweets by a whopping 25%. Also, it's illegal for any food to have more than 2% trans fats.

Read more over at Cafferty's blog.

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Topics: Debate • Global • Health

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Michelle G

    Taxing chocolate! Gasp! Would women who are having PMS be exempt from that tax?

    October 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      As a fiscally conservative Republican male I can only say, "Oh He||s YEAH".

      October 5, 2011 at 9:55 am | Reply
  2. Rz

    The equation is about as simple as it gets; TAX=REVENUE FOR THE GOVERNMENT. And if you think for one second that the gov't actually cares about peoples health then why haven't they outlawed cigarettes? Or increased the taxes on a pack by 100,000% ???

    October 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  3. yvetteclark

    The move is an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.

    October 4, 2011 at 6:10 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I hope it works!

      October 4, 2011 at 7:48 am | Reply
      • Guest comment

        It does work. Just look at countries that have had taxes (and strickter laws, school bans, etc) on sugar, tobacco and alcohol for decades.

        They do not have anything near the obesity problems we have here. Canada is one and very comparable to U.S.

        October 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Rz

      For what it's worth, we grew up in a small rural town where the council would not approve the establishment of any fast food chains. The closest golden arches were about 40 miles away, so we pretty much had to eat real food almost all the time. But putting a tax on any basic groceries should never be allowed.

      October 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
      • Lins

        I totally agree that taxes should not be allowed to be placed on grocery items. The thing is that it comes down to choice, habit, balance, and eating disorders. Should those of us who eat healthily 95% of the time and are in good health have to pay extra taxes on things like milk just because some people make bad choices, have bad habits, do not have balance, and/or have eating disorders? The thing is that the people that have those problems are not going to be deterred by a tax. It is an addiction. What they need is mental health care to help them get on the right track. I've been annorexic, I've been obese, and now I'm healthy. Believe me when I say that the tax is not going to fix the problem.

        October 5, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  4. Guest comment

    Wise move Denmark and I hope others follow. Dont expect to see it around here though, and still we wonder why we have an increase in obesity, diabetes and healthcare cost.

    In Europe many "unhealthy products" are taxed and sometimes very high, incl tobacco and foodstuff high in sugar, and in some countries alcohol. It has an effect on consumption, but more importantly, it brings in revenue for socialized medicine programs. Thus in general, people with unhealthy habits pay more into healthcare program.

    Taxes on unhealthy stuff is ok as long as there are other (healthy/low tax) products to chose from.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  5. Blogson

    If applied in the U.S. it will be yet another step in the government's power to regulate nearly every aspect of people's lives. What's next on the "hit list?" – this is a form of censorship.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  6. justin

    see i dont understand this stuff... why not just give a tax break to the companies that dont use saturated fat? then the other companies will stop putting saturated fat in there products.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  7. Andrew

    The quick argument would be "this tax will disproportionately affect the poor." Agreed, however, aren't the poor disproportionately affected by obesity?

    What remains to be seen is whether a sin tax on fats and sugars will actually make people buy/eat more veggies.

    October 5, 2011 at 9:59 am | Reply

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