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Eat Right, Pay Up: Government Gets It Wrong Again

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“Fat taxes” are tariffs on what governments feel are unhealthy foods. If only they had an inkling about which foods are truly unhealthy!

Denmark has just started imposing a tax on all foods containing saturated fats. Other countries have also started taxing food and drink they think are unhealthy, hoping to reduce cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. In the process, they are totally ignoring the latest scientific research.

The law that went into effect this month specifically targets saturated fats—the fats found most commonly in animal products like butter, cream, and meat, though the legislation makes no distinction between a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and milk from an organic farm.

The big problem is that the scientific evidence, honestly evaluated, simply does not support the assertion that saturated fats cause heart disease or are generally bad for us. In fact, as Joseph M. Mercola, MD, recently wrote on his website, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a number of important health benefits—and our body actually cannot function without saturated fats!

As Mary Enig, PhD, and Sally Fallon point out in “The Skinny on Fats,”  published on the Weston Price website and reprinted as “The Truth about Saturated Fat” on, saturated fats play many important roles in the body’s chemistry:

  • Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of cell membranes, giving cells their necessary stiffness and integrity.
  • For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated.
  • Saturated fats lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease, and protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins such as Tylenol.
  • They enhance the immune system, and have important antimicrobial properties.
  • Healthful omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
  • The heart is most directly nourished by saturated fats; in fact, the body creates reserves of highly saturated fats around the heart muscle, so the heart can draw on it in times of stress.

And as we reported previously, coconut oil is a saturated fat that is extremely important for good health, and may prove effective in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

Note that it’s not just the Danish government that can’t seem to grasp the science about saturated fats—the US government similarly demonizes saturated fat in its dietary guidelines (while simultaneously subsidizing the sale of cheese). And France, in imposing a tax on sugary sodas, apparently has no problem with diet drinks filled with demonstrably unhealthy artificial sweeteners.

It’s bad enough that governments wish to control what we put into our mouths. It’s even worse when they ignore sound scientific research and make laws based on fear, hype, and ignorance.

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