October 7 2011
Fat Tax Failures
When I went to open my Yahoo mail account this morning I looked over to see what was trending on the Internet. Fat Tax was the number one searched term. Not surprising. All over Europe, fat taxes and food bans are taking effect as governments all across Europe try to "solve" the so-called obesity epidemic.
Denmark just began levying a tax on butter (and oddly banned Marmite for it's salt content). Hungary plans to tax food with high sugar, salt, and carbohydrate content, and products containing more than 20 milligrams of caffeine. France (of all places!) has begun taxing sodas. Romania and Finland are also considering fat taxes and this week the UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he's considering a fat tax.
Is America far behind? Not at all. In fact, taxes on food and beverages already exist at the state level and the federal government is aggressively trying to control what we eat through tough regulations on food manufacturers and marketers.
So, do these taxes work? Of course not. Let's take a look at the Danes. The author of the blog The Color of Lila has this excellent observation about the tax-happy Danes:
We already have a model in Denmark, which has had a "sin tax" on chocolate and candies for some 90 years, increased taxes on sodas in 1998 and again in 2001, and banned trans fats in 2003. Here's the effect all of that has had on Danish obesity rates: 5.5% in 1987, 9.5% in 2000, 11.4% in 2005, and 13.4% in 2010.
Well...maybe those butter taxes and Marmite bans will finally do the trick.