The rise and fall of the world's first fat tax

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Malene Bødker, Charlotta Holm Pisinger, Ulla Toft, Torben Jørgensen

In 2011, Denmark introduced the world's first tax on saturated fat, but only 15 months later the fat tax was abolished. The aim of this article is to investigate the political processes surrounding the implementation and rapid abolition of the fat tax. Our findings suggest that industry and trade associations were heavily involved in the political process of formulating the fat tax. Industry representatives used certain tactics to oppose the fat tax: threatening lawsuits, predicting welfare losses, casting doubt on evidence, diverting focus and requesting postponement. After the fat tax was implemented, the food industry continued their opposition through intensified lobbyism and juridical actions at EU level. However, other factors seem to have contributed to the fall of the fat tax. The tax received criticism for being poorly designed and gradually lost popularity among health professionals, politicians and the public. In the end, the fat tax was abolished for financial reasons. This study demonstrates how politicians considered the fat tax as a funding source rather than a public health initiative, which resulted in significant shortcomings. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the massive influence by industry stakeholders was not balanced with inputs from public health professionals, who should assume a more proactive role in policy-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Policy
Volume119
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)737–742
Number of pages6
ISSN0168-8510
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

    Research areas

  • Food industry, Food policy, Lobbying, Policy development

ID: 137502257