Governance‎ > ‎Fiscal policy‎ > ‎Tax‎ > ‎Sales taxes‎ > ‎

Fat tax

It's not OK to be fat 

- At least that's the governments position

Some argue that these items need to be taxed to place less burden on the health system. 
Dangerous argument to say people can't eat or do things because it will cost the health system. The health system is there to server people, not people there to serve the health system.

What should be taxed?

Taxing sugar is part of the tax everything mentality.
They can't even agree on which foods are the unhealthy choices. This tax is poorly thought out - if you gather ten experts to tell you what food is the worst for us then you will get fifteen opinions!

Some people object to taxing to cause avoidance, where will their tax money go? They don't want to give it to the Government.

If there is a tax on sugar, surely the only way to implement it evenly is to put a tax on the manufacturers. Not on the end products.

One size fits all

Taxing sugar disproportionately affects the poor.
Type 1 diabetics need sugar occasionally to raise blood glucose level. This will negatively affect them.

The truth is tax is a blunt instrument that has a lot of collateral damage hurting all sorts of innocents along the way.

How many people should be fat?
The answer is not 0. It depends on a persons pleasure of eating weighed against the risks that poses to that person as determined by them.
If being fat is neither taxed or subsidised then the right amount of people ar fat. However in the U.K the fat are subsidised with free medical care.
A fat tax is not the solution, as someone who eats a lot of calories and is active will pay more than someone who eats less and is a couch potato.
The Government could change the NHS to cover costs of a slim person, with the excess costs paid by those who are obese.



In the 19th century sugar was taxed highly. So highly, people in the working classes could not afford it. This meant people tried substitutes instead. This lead to there 1858 Bradford sweets poisoning. Arsenic was used and 200 people died. This was a major factor in the repeal of the tax. While it is unlikely that people will die from modern substitutes, they might cause diabetes, cancer or other hard to detect issues.

If sugar is not taxed, and certain products are taxed, then consumers will just switch to possibly more suggary and expensive products to get their sugar hit.

Working examples

Denmark has considered dropping its fat tax 1 year after implementing it.


How can we justify having a tobacco and alcohol taxes if we do not also have a fat tax?


They're not arguing over which foods are unheathy but which are unhealthiest & thus should be the prime target


"Some of my favourite foods are high in fat, something that makes them delicious. For instance a well-matured Camembert is, for me, an absolute delight. The fat levels would make a Big Mac look healthy. Being a grown up, I have the sense to eat it rarely."

Slippery slope

How long before the government here introduces such a tax? and a sugar tax, and a salt tax, and a fish tax (fish stocks are after all diminishing), a soft drinks tax, a chocolate tax...


  • Wouldn't a waistline tax be a better idea?
  • What about supermarkets printing out how many man (sorry person!) days worth of food in your shopping basket. Along with restaurants providing the same information on their menu and your bill!
  • How about a sofa tax?
  • stop treating smoking, drinking and obesity related illnesses!!!!!!!!!!
  • How about a tax instead on nanny-state social engineering?


We need to differentiate between processed and non-processed sugars.
A sugar tax affects both those who may could benefit from it, as well as those who are not helped by sugar, or those who benefit from it, like atheletes.
If there is going to be a tax, it should be on those who import/produce it, to create a level playing field of all sugary products.



Link361 IEA on Sugar tax