Health effects of a ‘fat tax’ unclear for Germany

Health effects of a ‘fat tax’ unclear for Germany

The total health effects of a ‘fat tax’ on the German population remain unclear according to research by leading German food and tax economist Dr. Silke Thiele, of the Department of Food Economics at the Univeristy of Kiel, Germany.

The research paper, entitled “Fat tax: a political measure to reduce overweight? The case of Germany” published in 2010 investigates the impact of substitutions of different food types due to a tax on saturated fat, taking into consideration food price elasticities for German households.

For low income households, decreases in energy and fat intake are small – but potentially effective. However, due to the collateral decrease of nutrients which Germans have a deficient supply of, the total health effects of a fat tax remain unclear. Additionally, low-income groups would bear higher welfare losses than higher income groups.

The paper concludes that following these results, and the fact that taxation is not an efficient means to reduce overweight, other means should be considered.

You can find the whole paper here, and find out more about Dr. Thiele and the Kiel Department of Food Economics here.