The first nation in the world to impose a surcharge on foods containing high levels of saturated fats has all eyes on Denmark, the country that passed the ‘fat tax’ rule on October 1st 2011.
Not just limited to junk foods like Hungary, which earlier this year imposed a “Hamburger Law” that taxes soft drinks, pastries, salty snacks and food flavorings, Denmark’s fat tax will be levied on foods also long considered part of a healthy lifestyle, including milk and meat products. Butter, cheese and plain milk, as well as certain meats, oils and processed foods will all be subject to the Danish surcharge.
The fat tax approved by Denmark’s parliament is roughly equal to $3 per every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat per product, or about $0.40 for a small package of butter.
The goal of the tax though is not necessarily directed at curbing obesity. On average, Danes are less overweight than other developed countries. The tax is more directed towards improving the quality of life and increasing the life expectancy of the Danish people, who live fewer years than other developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Associated Press reported that Denmark’s health minister, Jakob Axel Nielsen, said that due to the effects saturated fats have on heart health and an increased risk of several types of cancer, “Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark.”
Denmark and the U.S. both rank 36th overall in life expectancy with an average of 78.3 years. Japan ranks number one with an average of 82.6 years.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger