Denmark scraps fat tax after it emerges people were travelling across the border in search of cheaper unhealthy snacks

// World | Denmark scraps fat tax after it emerges people were travelling across the border in search of cheaper unhealthy snacks
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  • The tax was approved by a large majority in a parliament in 2011 as a move to help increase the average life expectancy of Danes
  • Believed to be the world's first so-called 'fat tax'
  • One of the effects of the fat tax was that some Danes had begun crossing the border into Germany to stock up on food there

By Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED: 11:16 EST, 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:48 EST, 12 November 2012

Denmark is scrapping its tax on foods that are high in saturated fat after it emerged people were travelling across the border to Germany in search of unhealthy snacks for less.

Believed to be the world's first so-called 'fat tax, the levy was introduced in October 2011 in an attempt to limit the population's intake of fatty foods.

Foods containing more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat were subject to the surcharge, including dairy produce, meat and processed foods.

Free to eat fat: Denmark is scrapping its tax on fatty food after it emerged people were travelling across the border to buy unhealthy snacks for less. The Danish tax ministry said it was also cancelling its plans to introduce a tax on sugar

HOW MUCH DID IT ADD TO BILLS?

The measure added 16 kroner ($2.70; £1.50) per kg (2.2lb) of saturated fats in a product.

This increased the price of a 250g pack of butter by 2.20 kroner.

Ole Linnet Juul, food director at Denmark's Confederation of Industries, announced at the time the tax would increase the price of a burger by around nine pence (14 cents).

The price of a small package of butter increased by around 25 pence (40 cents).

But the Danish tax ministry said one of the effects of the fat tax was that some Danes had begun crossing the border into Germany to stock up on food there, reported the Washington Post. 

The tax was approved by a large majority in a parliament in 2011 as a move to help increase the average life expectancy of Danes.

But little than a year later it is being scrapped as authorities say it has inflated food prices.

Authorities have now said that the tax has had adverse effects on the economy, inflating food charges and putting Danish jobs at risk.

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

The ministry said it was also cancelling its plans to introduce a tax on sugar. 

According to the Danish National Health and Medicines Authority, 47 percent of Danes are overweight and 13 percent are obese.

Once the tax is scrapped several supermarkets have reportedly said they will reduce their prices.

Denmark, like some other European countries, already had higher fees on sugar, chocolates and soft drinks.

Weighty matter: According to the Danish National Health and Medicines Authority, 47 per cent of Danes are overweight and 13 percent are obese

Weighty matter: According to the Danish National Health and Medicines Authority, 47 per cent of Danes are overweight and 13 percent are obese

At the time it was introduced the conservative Danish government planned the fat tax as part of a goal to increase the average life expectancy of Danes, currently below the OECD average at 79 years, by three years over the next 10 years.

'Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,' health minister Jakob Axel Nielsen said when he introduced the idea in 2009, because 'saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.'

At the time the tax was introduced, some scientists said that targeting fat was the wrong attack and  that salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates can be more harmful to health.

Senators in France last week called for a tax on foods containing palm oil.

The UK is weighing up introducing a fat tax and Israel is also thinking of implementing one.

Hungary implemented a tax on fatty foods, plus higher tariffs on soda and alcohol last year - the profits are ploughed into health care costs.

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