(Freakonomics) Denmark Levies the World’s First Nationwide Fat Tax
10/05/2011 | 10:33 am
This week, Denmark begins a large-scale incentives trial of sorts by becoming the first country to impose a nationwide fat tax. From now on, foods in Denmark with saturated fat content above 2.3% will be taxed 16 Danish kroner ($2.87) per kilogram of saturated fat; which, according to Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post, works out to a tax of about $6.27 per pound of saturated fat. The tax was reportedly preceded by weeks of Danes stocking up on items like butter, red meat and pizza.
The issue of taxing fatty or sugary foods (and more broadly, the effectiveness of behavioral nudges) has been a topic of repeated discussion on this blog. James McWilliams posted last December on studies which indicate that while taxing sugary sodas reduces consumption, others have shown soda taxes to be ineffective at reducing obesity rates. Proof, McWilliams argues, that taxing specific food items is ultimately ineffective, since consumers can simply substitute sugar from other non-soda sources.
Also see If Exercise Is Rewarding, Why Isn’t It Addictive?, Does a Fat Face Mean Fat Profits?, Irresponsible Parenting… And Just Plain Wrong and Do You Procrastinate Because You’re Secretly Afraid Your Work Won’t be Perfect?