Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mo Money for Mo Sat-Fat

I was delighted to hear that someone has finally stepped up and placed a tax on fatty foods. Denmark has created a "Fat Tax" meaning that all people who buys foods which contain 2.3% saturated fat or more will have pay an additional price to take it home. They say this adds up to about an increase of $3.00/kg of saturated fats in our foods (foods such as butter, cream, cheese, oils and certain meats) which they are hoping will lead to people buying less of these heart damaging products and possibly helping to create a decline in obesity rates.

What I find incredibly interesting about this whole thing is that the USA has an obesity rate of 25% (yikes!), Canada's is 23% (also yikes!) and Denmark's obesity rate is nearly half of North Americas with 12-13%. A country that has a much lower percentage of obese people is the one coming forward and taking the initiative to improve the health of its people. Denmark admits that they eat way too much butter and fatty meats and after seeing the immense benefits from the ban of trans-fats in their country, they hope that this new tax will improve the health of its citizens even more. I applaud them.

One downfall: The fat tax does not discriminate against some foods that people may truly need which contains sat-fat levels that meet or exceed the 2.3% mark. For example, homogenized milk contains very high levels of sat-fat (25%) so this will be taxed for sure. This will then effect families of young children who need the high-fat milk to promote normal growth and health. Now that sucks especially since milk to already to expensive as it is.

Just a step back here. Yes, making people pay more for foods that cause us long-term illness is a good thing for sure and I hugely appreciate that this is the first step in a long and convoluted campaign and process to fight obesity. My big thing is something that I brought up just a few days ago and that is the combination of healthy eating and exercise to promote health. I think that if they're going to increase the price of foods that are bad that they should take that money and put it back into the system in a way that is good for us! Such as a subsidy to reduce the price of gym memberships or fitness classes. I just think that turning people away from buying a block of butter or fast food burger is just half the battle considering that people are so much more sedentary these days than ever before. Just a thought.

So the big questions is, will it work? Will people take a step back when they see the increased prices and think, "Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't buy this now that it costs more?"
To tell you the truth, I really don't know. Inflation has become such a normal occurrence in our regular trips to the grocery store that I can't say if people will even consider why they are paying more and will just pick up that frozen pizza and toss it in the cart like they do every day. I went and bought a coffee yesterday and had the money all ready (cause I already knew what it would cost) and when she told me the new price (an increase in $0.11), I just said, "Oh, the price went up," and reached into my wallet for some extra coin. In my head I wasn't impressed that the price went up but I've just become accustomed to paying more for stuff every now and then when they jack the prices up. It's really unfortunate that we don't think about this anymore and just accept paying more for everything. I hope that the Fat Tax works is so successful that they make all this extra money then all of the rest of the countries take notice and impose the tax as well, causing them to be able to reduce the cost of fresh fruits and veggies! One can dream right?!?

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