Fat Tax fails common sense test

Press Release 05/10/2011

Denmark’s imposition of a ‘fat tax’ on important staple foods like butter, milk, cheese and meat is a backward step for balanced family diets, which would be unworkable in a New Zealand context, says Katherine Rich, Chair of the Food Industry Group (FIG).

“Taxing these foods will certainly raise more money for Danish politicians, but is unlikely to have any impact on obesity levels.

“All the tax will do is make food more expensive for families, possibly even putting the health of children and the elderly at risk.

“It has to be acknowledged that the obesity issue is a complex one with no quick solutions. Numerous research studies and organisations such as the World Health Organisation agree that there are many factors involved, such as lifestyle and exercise.

“Nutritionists also agree that to stay healthy people need a balanced diet which includes all nutrients from fat, sugar, protein, fibre, carbohydrate to other vitamins and minerals.

“Fat taxes give the impression that all fat is evil, which is absolutely not the case. The issue is how much any one person consumes and whether this is balanced with physical activity,” she said.

“The reductionist approach by the Danish legislators in demonising just one nutrient (in this case fat) fails to recognise that people eat whole foods, not single nutrients.

“Education about healthy lifestyles which balance food intake with activity is the only key to people understanding how to feed themselves and their families.

“What Denmark will find out is that a ‘fat tax’ will do little more than fill government treasury coffers and increase food prices for all citizens,” Mrs Rich said.

About the Food Industry Group (FIG)

FIG is an industry body which encourages food companies to work with governments and the community in finding ways to help solve the obesity issue inNew Zealand.

FIG’s members include those of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (FGC), the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA), the Communications Agencies Association of New Zealand (CAANZ), Think TV and other media, Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs New Zealand.