CNN's Cafferty Suggests a 'Fat Tax'

Decrying the rise of obesity in America, CNN's Jack Cafferty on Tuesday all but argued for a "Fat Tax" in the U.S., on foods high in saturated fat.

The CNN commentator, during the 4 p.m. EDT hour of The Situation Room, pointed to Denmark's record of taxing fatty foods, sweets, alcohol and tobacco, and lauded the health of their citizenry. "Whatever Denmark's approach, it works," sounded Cafferty, before excoriating America for being so obese.

Although he put the question to the audience of whether or not America should have a tax, Cafferty was obviously leaning toward one. "As a nation, we get fatter and fatter every day, and quite frankly, it's disgusting. Plus, it's not like we couldn't use the extra tax revenue, right?" he suggested.

Anchor Wolf Blitzer chipped in a bit of support for his argument, saying that a tax on cigarettes already exists in the U.S., "and that's pretty dangerous as well."

[Video below. Click here for audio.]

A transcript of the segment, which aired on 4:19 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

JACK CAFFERTY: Hold the cheeseburgers. Across the pond in Europe, Denmark is becoming the first country in the world to impose a "Fat Tax" on foods that are high in saturated fats. That includes cheeseburgers, and pizza, and butter, and milk and cheese and oils. Some Danes stocked up on all these yummy groceries before the tax went into effect this past weekend.

How much the "Fat Tax" is depends on how much saturated fat is in any given food, but it comes out to about $3 for every 2 pounds of saturated fat. Officials say the goal is to increase the average life expectancy in Denmark, since saturated fats can cause heart disease and cancer.

Denmark has been a leading country when it comes to tougher stands on unhealthy foods. They have higher taxes on sodas, cigarettes and alcohol beyond what's required by the European Union. And they've increased taxes on ice cream, chocolate and sweets by a whopping 25%. Also, it's illegal for any food in Denmark to have more than 2% trans fats.

Critics say there's a "Big Brother" aspect to all of this, that the government has no right telling them what they should or shouldn't eat. Others suggest that any tax hikes on fatty or sugary foods should be accompanied by measures to make nutritious foods more affordable.

Whatever Denmark's approach, it works. Danes are downright skinny compared to us Americans: In Denmark, only about 10% of the population is obese. Here in the United States, one-third of all adults and nearly 1 in 5 children are obese. As a nation, we get fatter and fatter every day, and quite frankly, it's disgusting.

Plus, it's not like we couldn't use the extra tax revenue, right? Anyway, here's the question: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?


WOLF BLITZER: There's a tax on tobacco, and that's pretty dangerous as well, Jack. You're going to get a lot of e-mail on this one.

CAFFERTY: Well, and that tax on tobacco has curbed the amount of cigarette smoke in this country. A lot fewer people smoke cigarettes now than did when you and I were young.

BLITZER: That's good for all of us. Thanks, Jack. Thanks very much.

- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center