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NewsBites December 2011 Issue

Denmark Introduces a Tax on Saturated Fat

Like Hamlet, butter lovers may conclude there’s something rotten (or maybe rancid?) in Denmark. The Scandinavian country has become the world’s first to tax saturated fat, a key contributor to unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease. Concerned that its populace lags behind other European countries in life expectancy, the Danish government enacted the tax on all foods with a saturated fat content above 2.3%. The tax—16 Danish kroner per kilogram of saturated-fat content, or about $6.27 per pound—is expected to add 12 cents to a bag of chips, 39 cents to a small package of butter and 40 cents to the tab for a hamburger. But will that steer Danes away from fatty food? Maybe not: A 2007 study of a tax on fatty dairy products concluded that even a 50% tax reduced fat intake by only 3%.

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