Does New Zealand need a Fat Tax?

Denmark is getting one. And for good reason. If someone is fat they cost all tax payers a lot of extra money because they eat too much food and don’t exercise enough.

Denmark is to impose the world’s first “fat tax” in a drive to slim its population and cut heart disease.

The move may increase pressure for a similar tax in the UK, which suffers from the highest levels of obesity in Europe.

Starting from this Saturday, Danes will pay an extra 30p on each pack of butter, 8p on a pack of crisps, and an extra 13p on a pound of mince, as a result of the tax.

The tax is expected to raise about 2.2bn Danish Krone (£140m), and cut consumption of saturated fat by close to 10pc, and butter consumption by 15pc.

“It’s the first ever fat-tax,” said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, who has long campaigned for taxes on unhealthy foods.

“It’s very interesting. We haven’t had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real.” The tax will be levied at 2.5 per Kg of saturated fat and will be levied at the point of sale from wholesalers to retailers.

Problems with obesity are going to cost the New Zealand taxpayer billions, and it is time we had an honest debate about making fat bastards pay for their lifestyle choices.

Lets broaden the tax base by taxing fat bastard food and not using quite so much income tax to fund keeping fat bastards alive. Unfortunately the Danes experiment won’t work because they are taxing the wrong things. Instead of taxing foods with fat in them they need to be taxing things with carbohydrates in them, that is a much broader tax base to start with and secondly will actually address the issue.

You would think that after 50 years of telling people to eat less fat to get thinner we would have a whole heap of thin people, instead we have the exact opposite with the high focus on carbohydrate rich foods. The obesity epidemic is being caused by the health professionals forcing us to carb load.

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  • Prochoicenz

    What the fuck are you talking about you fat bastard? You’re the one who needs to go on a diet seriously….

  • Tim Ellis

    Becoming a fat bastard is a personal choice, Cam. People who become obese generally die very early. They might incur more medical costs, but they don’t incur superannuation costs.

    I don’t think the solution is to tax fatty food. It’s to ration public health services to treat those people who take personal responsibility for their physical wellbeing.

  • Anonymous

    Well what can I say I myself am overweight and I have to say it is harder to loose it than to put it on but try and try hard we must.
    If the answer is to TAX it then it is a con much like our carbon TAX.
    It is interesting that we have an obesity problem at the same time we have a problem with people living below the so called poverty line. Given that you don’t see to many Fat people in a concentration camp or in refugee camps in Somalia and other places.
    Do we have a poverty problem; seriously do we have an obesity problem or a poverty problem, when so many of the disadvantaged, poor, are in fact obese in some cases morbidly.
    Do we confuse laziness and poor personal choices with poverty? It surprises me that all obese people seem to have a mobility card so they can park closer to the Takeaway Bar when there doctors and health professionals (yeah right) should be telling them to park as far away as possible and get some exercise.
    You can’t have it both ways. And yes fellow overweight (fat) person Whale, you are a fat bastard to.

  • greenmuppet

    I thought funding your own medical care directly or through private medical insurance would penalise unhealthy fat consumption better than tax. But then it already costs more to overweight people to get medical or life insurance in the States. How come US is one of the most obese countries in the world?

    I am not mandating any solution because I don’t know one – just seeking an answer.

  • Horace the Grump

    I would like to hear some economists, such as Eric Crampton on this issue rather than a bunch of ranting… if its another guilt tax such as smoking or booze then all it will do is drive up the price of certain products and line the pockets of the Govt.

    I understand that Denmark has a lefty govt that would make the NZ Greens look positively conservative!

  • Giggittygig

    This is what I like about this site. When Cam has a brain fart and seems to endorse something like a Carbo…sorry, fat tax, he gets served by posters instead of having a load of sycophants post inane smiley faces etc. etc. while everyone else gets censored to buggery and back. Anyway, things like butter are essentials people will buy it no matter the cost, thin and fat, same goes for carbs like pasta and potatoes. This is nothing but a tax grab…..you had a brain fart Cam. Long time lurker, first time poster.

  • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz Whaleoil

    I don’t want a fat tax or a carb tax or anything, I posted to show what happens when you let control freaks like Greens dictate crazy things to you.

    I sought a reaction, I got one, that is what politics is supposed to be about.

    • MrV

      I thought someone had hacked your account!

  • Giggittygig

    Mate, if people read this post in isolation they would think you were so left wing, you only flew in circles. Fortunatly you’re so right wing you onl….um…nevermind.

  • Spectacularly retarded

    Tax on saturated fat is spectacularly retarded. Dietary fat does not make you fat- overconsumption of calories from any source does. Why is unfounded nutritional dogma still stuck in the 80s?

  • Jonathan W

    I get really tired of the “unhealthy habits cost the government money” argument. Obese people (and smokers, drinkers, all unhealthy habits) do not cost the government money, they save it.

    An obese person who needs $100,000 worth of medical care during their 40′s and 50′s, and dies before their 60th birthday has cost the government $100,000.
    The health nut who doesn’t drink or smoke and lives to be 90 might well also cost $100,000 in medical care during their 70′s and 80′s (even the healthiest human body eventually wears out), plus they recieve 25 years of the pension, so the cost to the government is more like $600,000.

    I’m not opposed to measures to discourage unhealthy habits and increase life expectancy, but the argument has to be made on ethical grounds, not economic ones.

  • Anonymous

    Why the hell should I as someone who trains for an hour a day every day pay more for the takeaway fish that gives me proteins and fats my body needs because some other moron won’t get off their arse and can’t be bothered learning about how their body works? Your body needs fats in some measure to help, amongst other things, liver function and the mechanics of the eyes. What you don’t need is an oversupply of energy, which comes from proteins, fats, carbs, sugars, whatever. If you eat enough of anything, you will get fat.

  • http://twitter.com/Tribeless1 Tribeless

    What I eat is nothing to do with government. Taxes on food to change my food choices is a tax on choice, period. It’s an attack on freedom. For me that’s where the argument ends.

  • Stanley M

    Saturated fat is always bad, it leads to an increase in bad cholesterol causing clogged arteries/heart disease, while not adding anything nutritionally that unsaturated fat doesn’t. Carbohydrates are good, they form the bulk of a healthy diet and have no ill effects themselves – unless you eat too much and don’t exercise enough. So a tax on carbohydrates is not helpful, however action against saturated fats and possibly laziness makes sense.

    • Michael Ward

      hahaha. that was a joke right? there is absolutely no medical or scientific evidence to back up a claim like that. don’t believe everything the government tells you. do your own research. you could start by reading this http://www.meridiankinesiology.co.nz/images/cholesterol%20farce.pdf

      fats are essential elements of your diet. carbs are not. all that sugar is whta makes people fat.

  • Snow90

    Cam, as a long time follower of your blog I’d like to point out to you and your readers that recent studies have shown that it is excess carbohydrates (eg. buns, chips, coke, bread, pasta, potatoes etc) that cause people to get fat. Dietry Saturated fats ( eg fatty meat, bacon, steak, Macca’s hamburger patties, etc) do not make you fat. Go to this blog http://www.fathead-movie.com for a beginners guide to the obsurdity that is the food pyramid. It is better to tax bread that it is to tax butter.

  • Joel

    What about reducing taxation and making healthcare a bit more user-pays? Compulsory health insurance, that would be dictated by market forces such that people with ‘higher risks’ (eg fat people, smokers) will have to pay more. Those of us who indulge with moderation and partake in excercise regularly will be rewarded for not making ourselves an extra burden on society.

  • Agent BallSack

    OKAY we have a fat tax…the converse should also apply… If you lose 1kg per week for 5 weeks, 5% reduction on personal income tax applies woohoo!

  • HSV325

    Ring fence South Auckland would be a good start.

  • Maaik

    How about a tax on stupidity….it will yield more money if nothing else

  • JMH

    So the latest NZ Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that despite a drop in fat intake in the diet, kiwis have gained weight. So the logical step – tax the fat?  

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