From France to Denmark, countries are deciding what constitutes a healthy diet by adding taxes to â€œunhealthyâ€ foods
NACSonline October 12, 2011
NEW YORK â€“ The growing global obsession with obesity has meant the increase in the number of so-called fat taxes, writes Rick Berman in The Daily Caller. In America, New York City has led this charge with its campaigns against salt and soda spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is taking his message to the United Nations, where he recently spoke on non-communicable diseases. His speech focused on urging foreign nations to adopt stringent food policies. â€œGovernmentâ€™s highest dutyâ€ is to ensure that healthy foods are the â€œdefaultâ€ selection, he said.
Some nations have already taken his sentiments to heart, such as Denmarkâ€™s tax on foods with saturated fat and junk food; Hungaryâ€™s tax on packaged foods with lots of carbs, salt or sugar; and Franceâ€™s soon-to-be tax on soda. Even British Prime Minister David Cameron said such taxes are â€œsomething that we should look at.â€
â€œLetâ€™s draw the line here: You canâ€™t tax people into health. In fact, the new Denmark tax could be counterproductive. The Danes reportedly hoarded pizza, butter, meat and milk before the tax took effect. And with a freezer full of DiGiorno, what are they going to eat more of?â€ wrote Berman, who is president of Berman and Company.
â€œAnd in the long term, there are a number of foods containing saturated fat that are associated with better health. One is dark chocolate (linked to heart health); a second is eggs (a good source of nutrients, according to Harvard); a third is Atlantic salmon (omega-3s are linked to heart and cognitive health). Taxing these foods could drive down these health benefits,â€ he wrote.
These taxes do not take into account overall good nutrition. â€œFurther, itâ€™s ludicrous for the government to set dietary policy with the tax code when our understanding of diet and nutrition is always changing.â€