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Last updated at 17:43 BST, Monday, 03 October 2011

Denmark’s fat tax

Summary

3 October 2011

Denmark has become the first country in the world to introduce a tax on foods seen as being harmful to health. There will be an extra charge on items that contain more than 2.3% of a particular type of fat.

Reporter:
Tim Allman

A cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs

Foods that are high in saturated fat are now subject to the tax

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Report

When you think of Denmark, you think of pastries, butter and bacon. So perhaps a fat tax isn’t a bad idea, a levy that will be added to any foods that are high in saturated fat; milk, cheese and meat, for instance.

Make it more expensive, reduce consumption, improve health. Well, that is the theory.

Some shops have reported increased sales, people hoarding food to beat the price rise. The Danish Food and Drink Federation says some might just cross the border to do their shopping.

There is certainly some scepticism. Scientists insist that saturated fat is not the right target. Salt and sugar cause more health problems. But one study claims close to 4% of premature deaths in Denmark are caused by people consuming too much saturated fat. So hit shoppers in the pocket, not the waistband.

Tim Allman, BBC News

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Vocabulary

pastries

baked foods, usually sweet, made from batter or dough that contains butter and sugar

a levy

a tax

saturated fat

substance found in certain foods that is thought to contribute to heart disease

reduce consumption

lower the use of something

hoarding

buying a large amount more than they need to keep for future use

to beat the price rise

to avoid paying a higher price later

scepticism

doubt about the effectiveness of the decision

claims

states as truth without necessarily proving it

premature deaths

deaths that happen earlier than expected

waistband

the top of a pair of trousers or skirt that attaches around the waist