Healthy living * Weight loss

Government will 'look at' UK fat tax

Government will  look at  UK fat tax UK obesity rates highest in EU

The Government will consider introducing a 'fat tax,' David Cameron has said, in a bid to combat rising obesity and soaring healthcare costs.

Only this week, Denmark introduced a tax on foods that contain more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat including meats, cheese, butter, edible oils, margarine and other spreads, and processed foods.

The Danish government hope to reduce saturated fat consumption by up to 10 per cent, as well as cutting healthcare costs.

At the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today, the Prime Minister said a fat tax in the UK should be considered.

"I think it is something that we should look at, he told 5 News.

"The problem in the past when people have looked at using the tax system in this way is the impact it can have on people on low incomes.

"But frankly, do we have a problem with the growing level of obesity? Yes.

"Do we have a kind of warning in terms of, look at America how bad things have got there, about what happens if we don't do anything? Yes, that should be a wake-up call."

The UK now has the highest obesity rates in Europe, with nearly 25 per cent of the adult population obese, according to EU figures. This is more than twice the rate in Denmark, which has one of the lowest obesity rates in Europe (11.4%). Average EU obesity rates are running at 15 per cent.

An estimated £4.2 billion is spent by the NHS each year treating obesity and obesity-related illnesses including some cancers, diabetes, strokes and heart disease.

The figure is expected to rise to £6.4 billion by 2015, according to the Department of Health.

Despite this, any attempt to follow the Danes lead in introducing a fat tax in the UK is bound to meet with stiff opposition from food manufacturers and the farming community.

This article was published on Tue 4 October 2011

Image © Knut Ekanger -

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