Taxing the fat

Obesity and its related diseases (like heart disease and diabetes) are growing increasingly problematic, and not just in the United States. Childhood obesity, in particular, scares me, and I monitor what The Boy eats very carefully. It’s not to say that he doesn’t indulge in potato chips or candy from time to time, but I’m delighted when he munches on frozen grapes or opts for string cheese over a cupcake (and will openly praise him for making such a choice).

This morning, one of my European cousins shared an article about Denmark’s new taxes on fatty products, and I think it’s an interesting (and bold) move. I think the tax on butter may be a bit much; butter is, after all, a much healthier kind of fat than margarine or most oils (I mean, just look at the labels). But taxing junk food would certainly give someone pause before they reach for that super size bag of Ruffles the next time they’re at the grocery store.

The article says that retailers would pay the tax as they purchase from wholesalers, which means that the retailers would likely pass the increases on to the consumer. But if the United States were to follow suit, I don’t think it should stop there. Fast food restaurants (and even table service establishments) should have to pay the tax, too. And then that tax money could be used to pay for healthcare initiatives.

I’m curious to see how this plays out in Europe, and I wonder if it will ever make its way over the pond.


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