Denmark, on October 1, put a $1.29 per pound tax on all foods that hit 2.3 percent in saturated fats. That’s on top of a 25 percent surcharge imposed last year by Denmark’s food police on all ice cream, candy, sugar, soft drinks and chocolate.
So now it’s cupcakes being added to Denmark’s targets for hiked taxes, plus bacon, whole milk, shortening, avocados, whipped cream, sausages, sardine oil, nuts, egg yolks, meat drippings, hydrogenated oils, seeds, cheese, dried coconut, cod liver oil and skin-on ducks.
And they’re not even that fat in Denmark. The obesity rate in Denmark is 13.4 percent, lower than the European average of 15.5 percent, and way lower than the obesity rate in United States — 33.8 percent for adults and 17.5 percent for children and adolescents aged 2 through 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Today, more than half the residents of New York City and nearly 40 percent of our public school students are overweight, manyof them seriously so,” reports foodnavigator-USA.com.
There’s a Food Director at the Confederation of Industries in Denmark, a central planner named Ole Linnet Juul. Denmark’s across-the-board tax on saturated fat, he said, is the first of its kind in the world.
Ole Juul says the new tax will only add 15 cents to a hamburger. That’s a pretty skinny hamburger. A tax of $1.29 per pound adds 64.5 cents to a good half-pounder, plus whatever tax they stick on the cheese and bun.
What the tax is supposed to do is increase the average life expectancy of the Danes by three years in the next decade, explained Juul. He didn’t get into how longer life spans will add to Denmark’s already burgeoning pension costs, heighten the nation’s already high levels of red ink, and intensify Denmark’s debt crisis. That’s another department.
In any case, the Danes, seemingly more concerned about getting sufficient amounts of butter for their pancakes than living longer, are already stockpiling and talking about some surreptitious smuggling. “Danes hoarded food before the tax went into effect Saturday, emptying grocery store shelves,” reported ABC News. “Some butter lovers may even resort to stocking up during trips abroad.”
That sounds like Denmark’s central planners might want to get some advice from America’s TSA agents on how to scan underwear for concealed butter sticks.
Romania and Finland are already talking about following Denmark’s lead, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And it's begininng to sound like we might be next. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that American health care costs due to weight-driven problems went up by $40 billion a year when obesity rates increased from 18 percent to 25 percent from 1998 to 2006.
Some are claiming we can get all that money back and more if we’d just raise taxes on sardines, ducks, sausages, Snickers and all the other bad stuff on the aforementioned lists.
“Conservatively estimated, a 10% tax levied on foods that would be defined as ‘less healthy’ by a national standard adopted recently in Great Britain could yield $240 billion in its first five years and $522 billion over 10 years of implementation,” advised Los Angeles Times health reporter Melissa Healy.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.