David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said his government should follow the example set by Denmark and impose a so-called fat tax on unhealthy foods in order to tame spiraling health care costs and curb slowing life expectancy rates.
Denmark decided to apply a surcharge on foods that possess more than 2.3 percent saturated fat – this would include such popular treats as butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food.
The Danish tax amounts to 16 Danish kroner ($2.83) per kilogram of saturated fat in a product. Copenhagen officials expect the levy to generate almost 2.2 billion Danish kroner ($390-million) for the government.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Cameron said: “I think [a fat tax] is something that we should look at. The problem in the past when people have looked at using the tax system in this way is the impact it can have on people on low incomes. But frankly, do we have a problem with the growing level of obesity? Yes.”
The Prime Minister added: “I am worried about the costs to the health service, the fact that some people are going to have shorter lives than their parents,” noting that obesity will soon supplant drinking alcohol and smoking as Britain’s “biggest health challenge”
“Don’t rule anything out, but let’s look at the evidence and let’s look at the impact on families,” he said.
According to UK media, about half of British adults are overweight, while 17 percent of men and 21 percent of women are obese.
The University of Madrid's School of Medicine stated that up to 400,000 deaths each year in the European Union (EU) are directly connected to excess weight.
However, within Denmark itself the new tax has not been broadly welcomed. According to Danish media, some retailers complained it will be hard to enforce and regulate, while creating a bureaucratic nightmare. Some scientists contend that saturated fat is not as deadly as salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Others indicated that Danes will but the high-fat products they want abroad.