Fat Tax Fails in Denmark, Bloomberg and Michelle Obama Hardest Hit

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


The plan was brilliant. Tax fat foods, improve public health and force companies to exchange sugary treats for rice cakes. But as with all plans of mice and michelles, the Danish fat tax did not work out as planned. Instead of paying the fat tax, Danes smuggled food across the border and left Denmark to be able to eat a decent meal. Companies lost money and weren’t able to expand and it was a net loss for all concerned.

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

The country’s fat tax added 16 kroner ($2.7) per kilogram of saturated fats in a product, and was levied on everything containing saturated fats, including raw ingredients like butter and milk to prepared foods like pizzas.

The price of a half-pound of butter, for example, rose by 2.20 kroner, or 37 cents

The Danish Food Workers Union told Food Navigator recently that the measure had led to a loss of 1,300 retail and manufacturing jobs there.

Denmark’s surcharge on the fat content of foods has cost businesses 200 million kroner since it was implemented last October,

And best of all, no one got healthier as a result, they actually became more unhealthy.

Larsen said that the red tape was the only thing to come from the levy, since it did not encourage customers to pick less fatty food.

“There have been absolutely no health benefits gained from this tax,” said Ole Linnet Juul, of DI Fødevarer, a food industry advocacy group.

Arla, the nation’s largest dairy, said Danes were consuming just as much milk, cheese and yoghurt as before; they are just choosing cheaper, and perhaps even less healthy, varieties and the government is actually collecting less money as consumers buy down instead of less.

The fat tax predictably backfired. But lots of greedy Socialists in other countries are still dreaming of pigging out on the rich revenues of fat taxes.

Last week, senators in France called for a tax on foods with palm oil, a levy that has been termed the “Nutella tax” after the beloved chocolaty spread that would become pricier as a result.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he was considering a fat tax similar to Denmark’s, referring to the United States in a local TV interview as a cautionary tale.

“Look at America, how bad things have got there – what happens if we don’t do anything? Yes, that should be a wake-up call,”

Apparently Cameron’s idea of austerity is to starve people. Should work really well. Forward!

  • tanstaafl

    I've lost 55 pounds over the last 4 years. It can be done – without government interference.

  • riverboatbill

    A tax on fat heads would deplete the democrats accounts.

  • anthony

    excuse me, plenty of fat PEOPLE in the UK as well. I recall a recent BBC article that put England's, or maybe it was the whole UK, overweight level at over 50%

    actually here it is:
    In the UK an estimated 60.8 per cent of adults and 31.1 per cent of children are overweight. According to figures from 2009, almost a quarter of adults (22 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women) in England were classified as obese (BMI 30kg/m² or over).
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/condi

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Yes, but the fat jokes are part of the traditional European sneering at Americans.

    • Mary Sue

      haven't you seen teh bogus comparison pic of an American 20something girl and a French 20 something girl?

  • A 22 Year Old Man

    This would be hilarious if it weren't so outrageously sad. Irony is bittersweet.

    I have to tell you, David, that without getting my news through a satire-filter, I think I'd be depressed. You help me keep it together by letting me laugh at the absurdity.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      That's the best way. And ridicule is a potent weapon too.

  • stargirl

    how ironic that the left, which claims to find racism everywhere but within its own ranks, would promote a fat tax here in the USA. a fat tax would affect blacks disproportionately, since they are fatter than whites.
    but to the thin white academics who dream up these procrustean notions, the fact that black men love women over 200 pounds is of no concern whatsoever. pursuing the utopian ideal of a lean, well toned body for all is what matters most.

    • Mary Sue

      nobody thinks about the poor overweight people of colour, though, their minds are on the 300+lb stereotypical "redneck southerner" that exists on a diet of grits, bacon, ham, and 3 cakes a day. So they THINK that this is going to affect the poor fat white people without taking anything else into consideration.

  • Lori

    Yeah , we are so unhealthy we kicked ass at the olympics. ;)

  • Mary Sue

    reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons where Homer is a food critic, and the chefs of the area plot to bump him off when he gives too many gratuitous bad reviews. A french pastry chef pumps a buttery eclair full of poison and Lisa overhears about it, runs to tell her father and warns him that it's going to kill him. He shrugs and is about to take a bite when she cries, "DAD, NO! It's… it's LOW-FAT!"

    Homer: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" *throws it and it explodes, leaving a sizeable crater*

    I think we can count on Homer Simpson's support to oppose this! :P