Fat taxes in the EU: between fiscal austerity and the fight against obesity

Alemanno, Alberto & Carreño, Ignacio, 2011. “Fat taxes in the EU between fiscal austerity and the fight against obesity”, European Journal of Risk Regulation 4, 2011

This essay provides a brief analysis of the genesis, rationale and legal implications of these national ‘fat tax’ schemes by focusing in particular on the measures recently implemented in Denmark and Hungary. Some key insights from the essay:

  • “One question is whether these product-specific taxes are really addressing the obesity problem by penalising certain ‘unhealthy’ products or if they are just new instruments to generate fiscal revenues (or maybe, even, to protect certain domestic constituencies), in particular in view of the public deficit problems that many EU Member States are currently facing in the context of the economic crisis.”
  • “[…] it is not clear whether the imposition of such taxes reduces obesity or whether governments would get better results from education campaigns, for instance”
  • “[…] there is no consensus in the scientific community on which foods to target. Therefore, before committing to the introduction of a fat tax, policy-makers need to consider their objective, the effect of the tax in combination with other measures, and the impact on businesses.”
  • “In view of the discrimination among specific food categories, the hope is that, in Europe, the adage that ‘there are no bad foods, only bad diets’ will not become ‘there are no bad health policies, only bad trade-related measures’.”

You can find the whole paper here.

Education not tax, Ineffective on obesity, What others say: experts, education, Government revenue, Europe