Denmark’s Fat Tax

Denmark’s Fat Tax

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If President Obama and the tax-happy left get their way, this is what is coming in America.

Lisa Abend of TIME reports that Denmark has just enacted a tax on fatty foods:

The tax, the first of its kind in the world, imposes a 16 krone (roughly $3) hike per kilo of saturated fat on any food that contains more than 2.3%. Given current Danish consumption — they eat a lot of butter and sausage in Denmark — that should amount to somewhere around 82 million kilos (180 million lbs) of fat subject to the tax.

“At the political level there was a high degree of consensus for this law,” says Tor Christensen, chief consultant for Denmark’s Ministry of Taxation. “There was wide agreement about trying to improve the average Danish lifespan, about trying to improve the health of the Danish people.” The tax was approved by nearly 90% of the Danish parliament.

This is craziness, of course, because perfectly healthy people are being lumped in with the fatties.

If Denmark really wanted to reduce obesity, it would give tax rebates to its obese citizens who lose weight.

Why? Because there are countless studies showing that positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement.¹

The reason the Danish government, and all governments that claim they want to stop obesity, don’t use positive reinforcement is because it costs the government money whereas negative reinforcement raises revenue. And any alert observer knows that the true goal of sin taxes, like all taxes, is revenue raising.

Final Observation: If the threat of dying an early and miserable death is not enough to get these folks to lose weight, what makes these know-it-all elites think that an excise tax will do the trick?²


¹   See, for example, Richard Kirkham’s Long-Term Benefits of Positive Reinforcement vs Negative Reinforcement.

²  The idiocy of this tax is beyond comprehension. Yes, the tax may cause some overweight people to consume less lard. But that is no guarantee they will consume fewer calories. The logical assumption would be that these overeaters will replace the calories they lose from lard consumption with another, non-sin-taxed source like, say, a juicy 20 ounce Ribeye. 

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida


  1. I presume the Danish government introduced this tax because of the perceived threat that saturated fat causes both obesity and heart disease.

    Science shows that both of these premises are false. The authors of a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2003;78:1331-1336 conclude a high saturated fat diet results in weight loss after 6 weeks without adverse effects on serum lipid levels, and further weight loss with a lipid-neutral effect may persist for up to 52 weeks.

    Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (1997) 145 (10): 876-887 found that men who consumed the most saturated fats had a 27% decrease in coronary death and an 13% decrease in major coronary events compared to those men that consumed the least.

    These are just 2 studies. However the scientific literature shows many, many examples where saturated fat has in fact many beneficial effects on human health.

    I urge people to do their own research and come to their own conclusions with regards to the effects of saturated fat on health. Search my website for the results of hundreds of studies and you will be surprised at what the scientific literature actually says.

  2. David,

    Good stuff, but the government should stay out of it.