With the United Kingdom having the highest obesity levels which includes child obesity, in Europe the government may find itself under pressure to follow Denmark’s lead to introduce a “fat tax”. The Danes are the first country in the world to introduce the tax on fatty foods, in a bid to reduce obesity levels.
In Denmark, there are less than 10 percent of people who are clinically obese, which is less than the average figure for Europe. From 1st October 2011, the tax will be implemented on fatty foods. Butter will cost an extra 30p,a pound of mince will cost 13p more and 8p will be added to a bag of potato crisps. Adding tax to these foods is expected to reduce saturated fat consumption by almost 10 percent, while butter sales are predicted to be 15 percent lower. The revenue raised is expected to reach 2.2 billion Danish Krone, equivalent to about £140 million.
The director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, Mike Rayner has fought for unhealthy food to be taxed for a long time. He is eager to see the actual results of the “fat tax” on unhealthy food in Denmark, and its effect on consumers. Almost four percent of premature deaths in Denmark are thought to be caused by eating high amounts of saturated fat, according to Denmark’s Institute for Food and Economic research. As a fifth of the people in the UK are obese, which includes children, the number of premature deaths that can be attributed to a high consumption of saturated fat will be far higher.
Although Andrew Lansley, the health minister has resisted taxing unhealthy foods, Rayner believes that he will soon have no choice. He said:
I think we’re going to have them in Britain whether Mr Lansley wants them or not, because the obesity crisis in the UK is such that we need to take more action.