When it comes to encouraging healthy habits, some governments nudge their citizens gently, while others go for more drastic measures – like taxing items that are considered “unhealthy.”
For instance, in the US, there are taxes on tobacco products and in some US states, there are taxes on things like soda and chips.
Denmark’s new government is pushing through a nationwide fat and sugar tax.
Anchor Marco Werman talks to Danish television news anchor Kim Bildsoe Lassen about those new measures.
Read the Transcript
The text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.
Marco Werman: I am Marco Werman, this is The World. When it comes to encouraging healthy habits, some governments nudge their citizens gently. Others go for more drastic measures like taxing items that are considered “unhealthy.” Here in the U.S., there are taxes on tobacco products for instance; and in some U.S. States there are taxes on things like soda and chips. Denmark’s new government is pushing through a fat and sugar tax. Kim Bildsoe Lassen is a Danish television news anchor. He says the new government is expanding on an idea that began under the previous one.
Kim Bildsoe Lassen: There is actually two parts of it. One is the general fat tax that the former government is also involved in where they simply tax the unhealthy foods that include a lot of fat. What this new government that came into power today is doing, is they are adding on this with sugar and other unhealthy foods so that, simply, it will be taxed more. The price of chocolate will rise. The price of sodas will rise. If you want to buy chips it is going to be more expensive. I think that there has been a little debate about it and the former government tried to make it a little bit of an issue. But, generally, I think people in Denmark accept that this is one way of trying to deal with the deficit that we also have in our country – to get more tax in – and it is okay to do it on things that are unhealthy.
Werman: So what kind of percentage increase are we talking on fatty and sugary foods?
Lassen: It’s quite small, but if you buy some chocolate it might rise to 25 cents for a large piece of chocolate. The sodas…I think it’s about 35 cents. It’s not a lot but people will hear it, definitely.
Werman: Right. Not a lot, but noticeable. How bad is the obesity problem in Denmark right now?
Lassen: It’s not as bad as in the States, but it is a growing problem. We see it for the first time among children, among young people who don’t exercise enough; they eat unhealthy. So it’s a rising problem and that, of course, is also one way of addressing that.
Werman: Kim Bildsoe Lassen, an evening news anchor on Danish television, speaking with us from Copenhagen. Thank you so much.
Lassen: Thank you. It was nice to be here.
Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.