Denmark seriously rethinking the world’s first “fat tax”

posted at 3:31 pm on November 11, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Last year, Denmark levied the first-ever national “fat tax” on food products containing saturated fats in an effort to both exert some sway over what the goverment deemed were members of the Danish population’s unhealthy eating habits, and perhaps bring in some extra revenue at the same time. Two birds, one stone — easy, right?

No, not really. The government’s effort to socially engineer the behavior of its populace actually came with a whole host of unintended consequences that negatively impacted the economy and largely failed to slim down Danes’ waistlines anyway. Who could’ve seen this coming? Via the AFP:

Denmark said Saturday it would scrap a fat tax it introduced a little over a year ago in a world first, saying the measure was costly and failed to change Danes’ eating habits.

“The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax — the so-called sugar tax — has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies’ administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk,” the Danish tax ministry said in a statement.

“At the same time it is believed that the fat tax has, to a lesser extent, contributed to Danes travelling across the border to make purchases,” it added.

“Against this background, the government and the (far-left) Red Green Party have agreed to abolish the fat tax and cancel the planned sugar tax,” the ministry said.

Thus run such statist attempts impose top-down virtue upon the masses — but at least Denmark had the good sense to scrap the effort instead of doubling down on stupid, as big-government proponents are wont to do. There are plenty of people and groups who have proposed the idea of a fat tax in the United States as a viable method of dealing with the obesity crisis, but one would hope this will serve as a useful indicator of the negative effects that these kinds of propositions inevitably end up having.


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