x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A tasteless tax on fatty foods

Denmark's new tax on high-fat foods is well-intended, but the nutritionist state, part of the nanny state, is becoming just too big.

In a survey this year, the people of Denmark said the export in which they take the most pride is Lurpak butter, those silver-foil wrapped packets familiar to shoppers in the UAE and many other countries.

But now Danes themselves are being discouraged from eating the country's celebrated butter, and a number of other products of their fertile farms as well. How? A new tax on foods high in saturated fat, equal to about half a dirham on a packet of crisps, is intended to extend life expectancy. And no doubt it will.

But for all the good intentions behind this change, there is something chilling about the way the nanny state - perhaps we should say the nutritionist state - keeps growing, extending its reach in many directions, always in the name of good causes and always with plenty of sanctimonious rhetoric. Slowly, but relentlessly, the arteries of free choice in everyday life are being clogged as rules, requirements, incentives and disincentives, laws, taxes and regulations restrict our choices.

Danes are currently among the least obese people on Earth. Some say this is because of policies like this one and last year's 25 per cent increase in the taxes on sweets, ice cream, and chocolate. Maybe so, but now Danes will have the cheerless prospect of wondering how their government will next "improve" their lives by limiting their choices.