Tag Archives: obesity

Denmark’s fat tax

29 Jan

5982086509_01f963342fAs of October First, Denmark implemented a new tax on foods called the fat tax. Approved by 90% of Danish voters, the tax is about 2.3 percent extra on foods containing saturated fat. In the United States, that amounts to about an extra $1.32 per pound of food containing saturated fat. A hamburger, for example, might cost an extra 15 cents. While it doesn’t sound like much, some feel taxing unhealthy foods is a direct limitation of their first amendment rights.

While the U.S. government has played around with the idea of a “sugar tax,” or a “fat tax,” similar to Denmark’s, a bill has not yet been brought to voters. Denmark’s obesity rates are about a third of our own, about where our obesity rates were in 1990. Might this be helpful to our cause in the United States today? So far, resistance has been felt by food giants like Coke and McDonald’s fighting against the tax, likely in an effort to preserve their profits. Surprising to some, the bill received the most backlash from consumers themselves. “Get away from my French fries” said Glenn Beck regarding the bill.

Hypothetically, if the United States began to tax consumers an extra 2% on fast foods, over $2 billion dollars could be raised. This money could be invested in subsidizing local farmers instead of huge nameless companies, or even be put directly into the public school’s lunch budgets! In broader terms, the money could provide healthier options at lower costs. Ideally, we could also cut our medical bills as well. Americans spent over $444 billion in 2011, just treat heart disease and stroke, both directly linked to unhealthy food choices.

Would taxing unhealthy foods help? Not without advocating for healthier and cheaper food choices, as well.  Especially in our children’s schools!

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

How our diet has evolved from 1970 to 2008

9 Jan

Evolution of the American Diet : Hungry for Reform!

Check out this fascinating interactive graph from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, from a food and health reporting project. Click on the link, and scroll back and forth on the image to see the average daily calorie consumption over the past three decades. The different circles represent the five main food groups (grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy), alongside added fats and sugars in our foods.  It is interesting that the number of fruits, vegetables, and dairy intake was about the same in 2008 as it was in 1970.  However, the amount of grains, added sugars, and saturated fats have gone up – and big time.  Considering it is these added sugar and fats that most directly lead to weight gain, it’s not surprising that our obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades.

The average daily calorie intake was 2168 in 1970, and 2673 in 2008.  That’s about an 18% increase! Although an extra 505 calories a day might not seem like much, it’s actually an extra 184, 325 calories per year. That’s more than one hundred White Castle Large Chocolate shakes, or over 200 Burger King double whopper burgers!

What can we do to stop it?  Teach our kids the importance of choosing nutritious meals, and show them how to cook fresh food themselves! Think about enrolling your child in Butter Beans after school or summer camp programs to get a head-start on healthy eating and living.

A special thanks to Andrea Jezovit with UC Berkleys’ News 21 project for compiling all of this data! (http://www.acaloriecounter.com/fast-food-calories.php)