Dr. Lee, the Healthy Professor

Denmark Fat Tax, Not good Science!

Written by L. Lee Coyne | Views 1879


Denmark has introduced what is believed to be the world's first tax on foods containing saturated fat. 

My immediate reaction was one of frustration and disbelief because it is obviously a Political decision and not a decision based on good science. I am also concerned that Canada is considering similar action under a plan to tax “Junk Food”. 

Saturated fat should not be considered junk food. Foods like whole milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and beef are some of the oldest natural foods available—hardly junk!!! In fact most of these foods (except butter and lard) are excellent sources of protein. 

Furthermore, if you look at lard, the archetypal example of a killer fat, you will find that 47% of the fat is monounsaturated, which is almost universally considered a “good fat” - the same fat that you find in the heart healthy olive oil. About 12% is polyunsaturated and 40% is saturated. Butter is very similar.

A report published by Statistics Canada – Health Statistics Division has shown that the % of Calories from of all kinds of fat has dropped from 41% in 1972 to 31% in 2004 (considered to be a “low fat diet” by the American Heart Association). This coincides with a decrease in total Calories/day from 3,300 in 1972 to 2,600 in 2004 for adult men (2,000 to 1,800 for adult women). The % of Calories from fat were reported to be around 50% in 1900. Even with this major reduction in Caloric intake and fat consumption, obesity levels have doubled every 5 years. Fat is not the problem.

A complete critical review of the scientific literature over the last 100 years by Gary Taubes (book title Good Calories - Bad Calories) has shown that ... "dietary Fat, whether saturated or not, is not the cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease.”  There has been an apparent futile – politically correct - movement, over the last 50 years, to demonize fat, particularly saturated fat and cholesterol, to a point of creating an unfounded fear of foods containing these components. In spite of these futile Government agency and professional association promotions that have lead to decreases in caloric and saturated fat consumption, there has been no corresponding decrease in obesity and heart disease. 

In 1979, Swiss public-heath authorities reported an unexpected decline in heart disease mortality between 1956 and 1976 while animal fat consumption increased by 20%. The famous Framingham Mass. study published in 1987, that after 30 years of collecting data could find no correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease nor obesity. Similarly, several studies published in the early 90’s based on the Nurses Health Study, the National Heart - Lung and Blood Institute and the Cochrane Collaboration have all failed to conclusively identify saturated fat as the perpetrator of heart disease and obesity.

There are only two kinds of “Bad Fat”, namely “Rancid Fat” and artificially created “Trans Fat.”

One of the major problems with a “junk food” or a fat tax will be the scientific identification of such items. At the moment there is the danger of politicians making decisions based on bad science or vested interest lobbies.

I am off to the grocery store for some butter and Mayo for tonight's dinner.



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