Fat Tax Lands On Denmark's Favorite Foods

Times are tough in Europe these days. If you crave comfort food in Denmark to lift your mood, it'll cost you. Starting Saturday, shoppers in Denmark will pay extra kroner according to the saturated fat levels of certain foods. It's being called The Fat Tax. Host Scott Simon reflects on Denmark's attempt to fight obesity.

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Times are tough in Europe these days. But if you crave comfort food in Denmark to lift your mood, it'll cost you. Starting today, shoppers in Denmark will pay extra kroner, according to the saturated fat levels of certain foods. Not just potato chips, ice cream, sweet rolls and candy bars, but famously clean, creamy Danish butter.

Of course, it's being called the Fat Tax. The Danish government says that less than 10 percent of its population is clinically obese, which is actually slightly below the European average. But they estimate that close to 4 percent of the country's annual premature deaths are the result of eating excess saturated fat over a shortened lifetime.

Mike Rayner, director of Oxford University's Health Promotion Research Group, which has advocated taxes on high-caloric foods, says they'll know be able to see if making fatty foods more expensive actually discourages people from buying and eating them.

Now some critics contend that such taxes discriminate against poor people especially, who will now have to pay more for staples like butter.

If you figure in the increased costs of butter, cream, eggs, chocolate, raspberries, syrup and sugar, couples getting married in Denmark may have to choose between going on a honeymoon, or just having a wedding cake.

You're listening to Weekend Edition from NPR News.

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