Denmark’s government is on the brink of scrapping a tax on saturated fats in food, less than a year after bringing in the policy.

It is widely expected that Denmark’s government will abolish its so-called ‘fat tax’, as part of a budgetary deal between political parties. A proposed tax on sugar also looks likely to fall by the wayside.

In the country, government ministers have gone on-record to criticise the effect of the tax on food industry jobs.

In July, a spokesperson for the Danish tax ministry declined to comment on the situation. just-food’s requests for an update in recent weeks have gone unanswered, but most industry insiders and health campaigners now expect the tax to be dropped.

Ole Wehlast, chairman of the Danish Food Workers Union, told just-food plans to scrap the tax are “a victory for commonsense”.

It is almost 12 months since Denmark introduced a tax of DKK16 per kg on saturated fat in foods. Amid rising obesity levels worldwide, its action was viewed by many health campaigners as a pioneering attempt to tackle the problem head-on.

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Some, though, were critical of how the Danish government approached the issue, claiming the tax was motivated primarily by revenue concerns, rather than public health.

“It was a do-nothing tax,” said Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum. “All they were doing was to get some more money for the Treasury.”
He highlighted a recent study in the British Medical Journal, which argued that, for a so-called lifestyle tax such as this to work, it needs to be set at closer to 20%. “You’ve got to go for broke,” he said.

Still, Fry said a decision to drop the tax in Denmark would be symbolic for the wider debate on taxing foods linked to obesity. “It’s really unfortunate,” he said, speaking broadly as a supporter of such taxes.