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Sweden needs a fat tax to tackle obesity: expert

A leading Sweden nutrition expert on Friday argued that Sweden should follow neighbours Denmark and introduce a tax on fats in order to help in the fight against obesity.

Sweden needs a fat tax to tackle obesity: expert

Denmark’s “fat tax” is set to come into force on October 1st.

“I think we need a tax on saturated fat and on sugar, and perhaps above all, on soft drinks,” said Claude Marcus at Karolinska Institute to The Local.

Marcus explained that for the last 20 to 30 years, Sweden has undergone a very unhealthy price level shift, where candy and soda has become cheaper, while vegetables and fruits are getting increasingly expensive.

“This is an imbalance that’s harmful to the public health,” he said.

“Sweden has never before seen as much obesity and overweight people, and it’s a problem that costs 20 billion kronor ($2.9 billion) per year. Type 1 diabetes continues to increase and we don’t exactly know why, but we know that your lifestyle certainly affects it.”

But what Marcus suggests is not necessarily something that would make grocery shopping more expensive to Swedes, perhaps just change the balance.

“I think it’s reasonable when you know the dangers of these products, that you adjust taxes,” Marcus argued. “There would be a quite substantial tax for soft drinks and saturated fat, and use that money to lower or remove sales tax on fresh vegetables.”

In spite of this awareness and comparable tax increases for alcohol and tobacco, this is not a big debate in Sweden. Marcus finds this surprising since polls have shown a positive attitude among Swedes for the amendment in taxes.

According to a report from TV4 news, the average Swede eats more than 15 kilogrammes of candy per year, which is about double the European average.

Annica Sohlström, Head of the Nutrition Department at the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), said this is a result of the popularity of pick-and-mix candy.

“There aren’t many countries in the world that has this model where you pick your candy with a big spoon into a big bag,” Sohlström told TV4. “It’s easy to buy a lot more than what you had in mind.”

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Denmark suspects two Swedes over explosion at tax authority

Two Swedish citizens are suspected in connection with last week’s explosion at the Danish Tax Agency. One of the two is in police custody.

Denmark suspects two Swedes over explosion at tax authority
Copenhagen Police superintendent Jørgen Bergen Skov addresses the press. Photo: Philip Davali / Ritzau Scanpix

Copenhagen Police superintendent Jørgen Bergen Skov confirmed the arrests to press on Wednesday morning.

“Both individuals are suspected of carrying out the detonation at the Tax Agency,” Skov said.

One man, aged 22, was arrested in Swedish city Malmö on Tuesday and will be extradited to Denmark. Once he reaches Copenhagen he will appear for preliminary court proceedings, which the prosecution will request take place behind closed doors.

Swedish newspaper Kvällsposten reports the 22-year-old has no previous criminal convictions in the country.

The second man, a 23-year-old, is yet to be detained but an international arrest warrant for him has been issued, Skov said.

“During the night, we also searched several addresses in Sweden. We hereby confiscated what we believe to be a car used by the suspects,” he said.

“We have one suspect on the loose, which means we must be careful about what we say, out of consideration for the investigation,” he added.

The superintendent did not add any detail about how police were able to connect the two individuals to the August 6th explosion.

Skov also stressed that police do not believe the tax authority blast to be connected to a similar incident at a police station in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighbourhood in the early hours of Saturday.

“There is nothing to suggest (a connection),” he said.

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