Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming? 'Fat Tax' On Junk Food

Denmark just became the first nation to slap a special tax on saturated fats. Residents will pay (indirectly) the equivalent of 12 cents more for a bag of potato chips and 40 cents more for a hamburger.  You can read more about it in The Boston Globe HERE.

I suspect that the public policy goals and justifications behind this special 'fat tax' are very similar to the arguments in support of special taxes on cigarettes.

Having just watched the PBS documentary Prohibition, I am even more conscious of the perils of trying to legislate morality and lifestyle. But the obesity epidemic is having a dramatic effect on health care costs (and outcomes) in this country.  And the tax on cigarettes does seem to be reducing use.

The 10% obesity rate in Denmark is dwarfed by the rates here in the United States.  No US state has a rate less than 19%, and all but two states are over 20%.  Several exceed 30%.  Can we tax our way to physical fitness?  Should only the rich be allowed to smoke and eat Big Macs?

No comments:

Post a Comment