In a sunny park in Copenhagen, Mathias Buch Jensen was unimpressed. All around him, people were tucking into beer and chips. There were few signs that the latest offensive in the worldwide war on obesity was having much effect.
However, Denmark might not be the best place to experiment with a “fat tax” on lardy products.
“You know, Danes are big fans of butter,” Buch Jensen mused. “We love fat.”
“Knowing the Danes, it could have the opposite effect. Like naughty children, when they are told not to do something, they do it even more,” he said.
In a country known for butter and bacon, Denmark’s new tax is a body blow. Danes who went shopping yesterday paid an extra US$0.39 on a pack of butter and US$0.12 on a packet of potato chips, as the new tax on foods which contain more than 2.3 percent saturated fat comes into effect. Everything from milk to oils, meats and pre-cooked foods such as pizzas will be targeted. The additional revenues raised will fund obesity-fighting measures.
Hungary has recently imposed a tax on all foods with unhealthy levels of sugar, salt and carbohydrates, as well as goods with high levels of caffeine. Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have already banned trans fats, while Finland and Romania are considering fat taxes.
However, it is Britain which has the biggest obesity problem in Europe, and campaigners have urged the government to follow Denmark’s lead.
Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “It is not a question of whether we should follow the Danes’ lead — we have to.”
A recent study found that poor health and obesity costs the UK economy at least ￡21.5 billion (US$33.3 billion) a year.
Some experts argue that fat is the wrong target and that salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates should be tackled instead, but Colin Waine, former chairman of the National Obesity Forum, welcomed the move.
“Saturated fats have a higher calorie content than carbohydrates. I don’t think you can do everything all at once,” he said.
Fewer than 10 percent of Danes are obese, below the 15 percent European average, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Britain’s rate is 24.5 percent.
Buch Jensen is not planning to change his eating habits. Asked if he would be giving up butter, he offered a compromise: “I would fry cabbage in butter and add a little more butter at the end. That way at least I’m getting my vegetables.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday