Denmark has taken a radical step to stop its obesity levels from rising, and by the end of this week the Danes will be forced to pay a 'fat tax' on processed foods.
Not only junk food, but also butter, milk, cream, meats and cooking oil will be taxed. In fact an extra $3 per kilo will be paid on virtually any foods that contain more than 2.3 per cent saturated fats.
60 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children in Australia are overweight or obese.More stories from Today Tonight
The finger's being pointed fair and square at our food - we eat too much of it, and the wrong type. It’s too sugary, too salty, and worst of all far too fatty.
How would you feel if fatty foods were taxed? If you were paying another 15 cents for a burger? Or another $1.60 for 500 grams of butter; another 50 cents for vegetable oil; an extra 38 cents for chocolate biscuits? Would it make you eat less of them or stop you buying them?
Health experts like Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health, believes voluntary measures by industry and Government policies here aren't working.
“If we don't do something, we will get worse rates of obesity and higher rates of heart disease. We are already starting to see data suggesting people born now are not going to live as long as their parents, and that is very concerning,” Professor Neal said.
“What we see in Denmark is a Government with the guts to really take this on in a way that no one has done before. We need to see much more action in Australia now.”
“There is good evidence that a fat tax in Australia would save money and improve population health. It is a really good option.”
Dietitian and food coach Susie Burrell says some foods, like cream, butter and meat, are naturally high in saturated fats, but processed foods are real culprits.
“The strongest link is saturated fat to heart disease long-term, and also to cancer, and they're the two biggest killers in Australia,” Burrell said.
“Fast food - high fat food - is too readily available and too cheap in Australia, and we need to do something drastic. If a fat tax is it, so be it.”If we imposed Denmark's fat tax here the prices would be:
- Vegetable oil with 18.4 per cent saturated fat would jump from $9.30 to $9.77, up 47 cents. 500 grams of butter with 55 per cent saturated fat at *$2.50 would incur a ‘fat tax’ of $1.57 sending the price to $4.07.
- Sour cream at 25 per cent, would rise 67 cents from $2.36 to $3.03.
- Beef sausages with 10.75 per cent would go from $3.99 to $4.25.
- Meat pies with 7.5 per cent saturated fat at $6.80 would rise to $6.94.
- Cheese Spread, with 20.5 per cent saturated fat at $6.29 would become $6.84, up 55 cents.
Tina Taylor, nutritionist and naturopath from the Endeavour College of Natural Health believes price doesn't deter people. And Brad James who lost 30 kilograms eating healthier and exercising agrees.
“I think the best thing for us to do is educate people, rather than penalise people. I think the education that I've had over the last eighteen months is really what's given me the ability to lose the weight, and to not need a fat tax to give me an incentive,” James said.
“If someone is addicted to a sugary food or a fatty food, and has it as a regular part of their diet, imposing a tax won't deter them from that feeling they get from eating the food,” Taylor confirmed.Contact details
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