UN Gets Behind 'Fat Tax'

A new report suggests a tax on sodas would actually cut consumption

Denmark's "fat tax" on unhealthy items like minced meat and butter may not be popular, but now the United Nations is supporting the controversial legislation.

A report from Olivier de Schutter, the UN's Special Rapporteur, notes that "existing food systems... encourage diets that are a source of overweight and obesity that cause even more deaths worldwide than does underweight."

De Schutter recommends restrictions on the marketing of food products, as well as a plan for replacing trans-fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats.

Furthermore, the report recommends that states impose taxes "on soft drinks (sodas), and on [high fat, salt, and sugar] foods."

The UN report finds that a 10 percent tax on soft drinks could lead to an 8 to 10 percent reduction in soda purchases. The tax revenue could be used to increase education and access to healthy foods, the report suggests, because "the poor are penalized for being poor, both because HFSS foods and soft drinks are cheap and because healthy diets are expensive."

Denmark, France, Finland, and Hungary all have some form of a "fat tax." France alone is expecting to bring in around €280 million annually from their tax on sweet, non-alcoholic drinks. Hungary's "tax on chips" is expected to bring in €100 million.