After just over a year, Denmark announces that it’s scrapping its fat tax. Honestly, I’m not surprised, and I’m not disappointed. I think the idea of a “fat tax” on foods containing saturated fats is misguided for a number of reasons.
Fat is not the evil macronutrient we once believed it to be. Fat is actually an essential part of our diets. Even saturated fat is likely not harmful to us in healthy quantities. In fact, saturated fat in products like unrefined coconut oil and butter from grass-fed cows may actually be good for us. Fat in food is not the only thing making us fat.
Yes, taxing “junk” foods changes the food environment so that these foods may be less appealing to consumers. However, as the article I’ve linked to points out, consumers were going across the border to get their junk food fix. This change to the food environment is not the change we need to fight the obesity epidemic. The onus was put on the consumer when it should be put on the producer. How about having governments stop subsidizing agricultural industries such as the corn and sugarcane which is predominant throughout our food supply? Those savings could be used to subsidize nutritious fruits and vegetables, reducing the price consumers pay for them, making them more affordable and more appealing. In turn, the cost of processed, nutritionally devoid foods would increase now that the artificially low price due to subsidization no longer existed.
Healthy foods should be less expensive and unhealthy foods should be less affordable but this shift in balance should not come at the expense of the consumer, it should come at the expense of the food industry.