The Life and Death of the Danish Fat Tax

0 thoughts on “The Life and Death of the Danish Fat Tax”

  1. It is one of the reasons that hard measure work in Australia (like anti-smoking campaigns) is that people cannot simply pop across the border 🙂
    One of the other reasons is the -anti-carb brigade where carbohydrates are now seen as the big nasty instead of fat.

    1. Haha I guess Australia is a pretty good petri-dish for policy measures from that point of view – same with the US, actually, except for the border regions. Would be interesting to look at whether they have in general had more effective policy impacts that could be due to geography 😉

  2. I also have a problem with the fundamental premise of taxing ‘fat’ as a method of discouraging obesity. I am obviously not a nutritionist but consumption of high fat food is not necessarily the main/only driver of obesity. People think that reaching for the ‘low fat’ yogurt is the healthy choice but if that same yogurt is chock full of sugar, which they often are, then a healthier choice has not been made. So by taxing the higher fat item and ‘nudging’ consumers to the lower fat item is not necessarily driving better healthier decisions. (Though here I am not taking into consideration high cholesterol or other things linked to fat consumption.)

    My point is that good nutrition and obesity are much more complicated issues then ‘fat consumption’ which is why I disagree with the fat tax.

    Good post Janina

    1. I definitely agree, Brooke – taxing fat content as such was a very blunt measure to bring about the policy aims they aspired to. I was wondering what could have worked better? A tax on calories per 100g? On sugar? On a somehow agreed-on definition of ‘fast-food’? Or are tax measures in general too difficult to use in a public health aim? In the end, a person’s diet obviously does not depend on one single aspect – some people might even eat extremely unhealthy but still exercise a lot and thus don’t fall into the ‘target population’ of people whose behavior should be changed. I guess in the end it always comes down to education.

  3. Mmm yes I have no alternative. It is way too blunt, yes. I’m not sure how effective those ‘exercise every day’ ad campaigns work on tv either. Maybe education from the primary school years in schools? I suppose at the end of the day a person has a choice to eat and take care of their own bodies in however they see fit. :S ????

  4. I think a huge problem with this is that the realities of economic inequities are only worsened through a taxation method like this. Cheap fast food, a major target of this tax, is heavily consumed by low-income communities, because of proximity (food deserts) and financial accessibility (healthier foods too expensive). So making cheap unhealthy food more expensive really just results in more severe marginalization of already marginalized groups. Instead, making healthier foods more accessible and affordable should be the aim. Of course, discussions of what “healthy” food is are complex and racialized. And trying to outline universal policies that don’t address cultural differences result in Western constructs of food and health being unfairly applied to communities that have different, but equally healthy, food habits and cultures.

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