The surcharge will be levied on food items containing more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat.
In a bid to curb the growing problem of obesity, Denmark has imposed a fat tax on junk food. The surcharge will be levied on food items like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, bacon, ice cream and processed food if they contain more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat.
According to the new taxes imposed, the consumers will have to shell out about 20 per cent more for a packet of butter and a little more than half a Krone ( 1 Krone = 01.7 US $) for a packet of chips.
Nearly 40 per cent of the Danish population is overweight while nearly 12-15 per cent of the population is obese as against the European average of about 15 per cent. The government hopes that by imposing such taxes on junk food they will be able to fund the increased health care costs of treating the obese population. Also, high prices will dissuade people from eating food high on saturated fat.
Denmark has followed Hungary's suit, which in September imposed tax on food that was high in sugar, fat, carbohydrates and salt. A tax was also imposed on carbonated beverages, alcohol and drinks with high caffeine levels such as energy drinks.
Soon after reports of the new levy came in, customers started hoarding stocks of butter and cheese to skip the price rise. There is speculation that Denmark, known for its rich food, could react differently with people going across to other states to get their stocks.
Apart from Hungary and Denmark, other countries in Europe too have experimented with similar taxes. Switzerland and Austria, along with Denmark have already banned trans-fats, while Finland and Romania are considering fat taxes. Britain has the biggest obesity problem in Europe with nearly 24.5 per cent of the population being obese. According to the National Obesity Forum, a group working on raising awareness on growing impact of obesity, it is estimated that if similar steps are not taken, then by 2050, nearly 70 per cent of the British population will become obese or overweight, affecting not just the national health services but also the workforce.
Other countries like the US, too, have been toying with the idea. Obama administration had tried and pushed for the tax but has failed to introduce it. Nearly one third of the US population is obese and approximately 17 per cent of children and adolescents between two and 19 years of age are obese. Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan too are working towards getting a fat tax in place.