Original Article | Published:

Interventions and public health nutrition

The effects of the Danish saturated fat tax on food and nutrient intake and modelled health outcomes: an econometric and comparative risk assessment evaluation

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 70, pages 681686 (2016) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Background/Objective:

The World Health Organisation recommends governments to consider the use of fiscal policies to promote healthy eating. However, there is very limited evidence of the effect of food taxation in a real-life setting, as most evidence is based on simulation studies. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of the Danish tax on saturated fat in terms of changes in nutritional quality of the diet, that is, changes in saturated fat consumption, as well as other non-targeted dietary measures, and to model the associated changes in mortality for different age groups and genders.

Subjects/Methods:

On the basis of household scanner data, we estimate the impact of the tax on consumption of saturated fat, unsaturated fat, salt, fruit, vegetables and fibre. The resultant changes in dietary quality are then used as inputs into a comparative risk assessment model (PRIME (Preventable Risk Integrated ModEl)) to estimate the effect of these changes on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mortality.

Results:

The tax resulted in a 4.0% reduction in saturated fat intake. Vegetable consumption increased, and salt consumption increased for most individuals, except younger females. We find a modelled reduction in mortality with 123 lives saved annually, 76 of them below 75 years equal to 0.4% of all deaths from NCDs.

Conclusions:

Modelling the effect of the changes in diet on health outcomes suggests that the saturated fat tax made a positive, but minor, contribution to public health in Denmark

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark

    • S Smed
    •  & J D Jensen
  2. Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Headington, Oxford, UK

    • P Scarborough
    •  & M Rayner

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Competing interests

None of the authors have financial relationships with any organisation that might have had an interest in the submitted work in the previous 3 years and no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to S Smed.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2016.6

Author contributions

SS and JDJ were responsible for the econometric modelling. MR and PS were responsible for the NCD modelling. All authors contributed equally to the design and writing of the paper.

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition website (http://www.nature.com/ejcn)

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