Australia Fat Tax: Will it Work?

May 8, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Australia Fat Tax: Over the years, reports have suggested that Australia may levy taxes on unhealthy, fattening foods in an attempt to curb obesity after the French government’s attempts to tax sodas and Denmark’s failed attempt to tax fatty foods.

In Australia, 63.4 percent of adults are overweight or obese, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The rate makes Australia one of the most obese countries in the world, but it trails the United States. And like the U.S., Australia’s obesity rate has increased in recent decades.

The Inquisitr reported on Wednesday that Australia’s Obesity Policy Coalition was looking to go after a fat tax.

“We think unhealthy foods should be taxed and the funds raised used to subsidize healthy food for people on a low income. We know price plays a role in our decisions, and taxes are used in alcohol and tobacco sales to change people’s behaviors It would be interesting to see the impact the fat tax would have in Denmark,” said Jane Martin, with the group, according to the publication.

But some analysts, including the Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s Amy Bainbridge, say the tax won’t work.

“Rather than taxing foods, Governments should be looking for incentives for businesses to support their employees get regular exercise. This could be in the form of tax break on activities, gym memberships or other tailored fitness,” she wrote several months ago.

She added that sporting and recreation should be made “more accessible and affordable” for Australians. “Swimming lessons for children are popular, but are increasingly expensive. A casual swim can be expensive, too,” she elaborated.

In 2012, Denmark scrapped the world’s first fat tax after it was introduced just a few months earlier. The country levied a tax on foods containing 2.3 percent saturated fat, including oils, cheese, meats, and other products.

The tax was heavily criticized and highly controversial.

“What made consumers upset was probably that an extra tax was put on a natural ingredient,” Sinne Smed, a professor at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics, told the Wall Street Journal last year.