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Attack on olive oil consumption in Denmark

The introduction of a new 7.1 % tax per liter of olive oil is an irrational and ineffective decision by the Parliament of a country which has not been able to face with success the serious problem of obesity. The opinion of two authoritative scholars: Giuseppe Caramia and Francesco Visioli

I am not surprised at all, I have been waiting for it for a long time. There are moralizing campaigns, which are exploited by some subjects, including institutions, who show they have permanently lost their common sense. I can understand the fight against smoking, but the wild and superficial anti-alcohol campaign, which did not distinguish between super alcoholics and noble drinks such as wine and beer, was a warning signal. I immediately thought that some groups of health fanatics would have soon started an anti-fat crusade.

Just a few years later my fear have come true. The first country to fall in the trap has been Denmark. It is laughable and it makes wonder on the intellectual ability of governments.

Am I too tough? Too bad, this is a spontaneous reaction to those who think of solving problems while they actually avoid dealing with them. If obesity is a problem, a tax will not solve it when a correct food education is necessary. Alcohol abuse can be fought by a healthy education to moderation, not through a generic crusade on alcoholic drinks. I understand that contemporary society is sensitive to these fundamental problems, but it is also totally unable to face emergencies. We allow unrestrained liberties, but we forget to care for a fundamental task which we are due to satisfy: education.

Denmark new tax on fat foods, although they are responsible indeed for the unstoppable spread of a disease like obesity, is not a wise choice. Call it a preventive measure. Fats are responsible for terrible damages for our health as it is well known to all, but it is also necessary to distinguish between harmful fat food and healthy ones. They cannot be all equally condemned. It is an absurd to put on the same level a healthy and good extra virgin olive oil, with foods rich in hydrogenated fats. That is why paying 7.1% more on a liter bottle of extra virgin oil does not make sense.

I discussed this with two well known Italian scholars: Francesco Visioli, who works for Imdea (l’Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados) in Spain, and Giuseppe Caramia, former top clinician at Salesi Hospital in Ancona, both amongh the main experts in the health properties of olive oil.



Professor Francesco Visioli said: “If Danish government wants to increase income, fine, money does not stink; if they do that for health, though, they are making a huge mistake for not distinguishing between fat food and fat food. Olive oil is not like butter, margarine, or seed oils. What do they hope for? That people eat less fats and more carbohydrates? Didn’t they see the results of light food in the USA? I am against prohibitionism, and in favor of food education. Let’s try to convey the message that a correct diet is good to our health, without prohibiting specific foods. It is like banning alcohol: I obviously do not have to drink a whole bottle of vodka, but how about a good glass of wine? I hope other countries will not follow Denmark example.”



Now retired professor Giuseppe Caramia still keeps himself busy with congress papers and presentations, meetings, and future plans, without ever stopping. On October 16th he attended a conference on swimmers and feeding in San Benedetto del Tronto, on the 19th he was a speaker at a medical course on food and nutrigenomics in Sant’Anastasia, and from the 26th through the 29th was in Cagliari. Danish parliament members should look at him as an example of someone who loves to eat correctly, including fats, although he is always very fit.

He heard of the news from me only, since he missed it due to his trips. He says, confirming that the health fanaticism is contagious around the world, without distinction: “A little ago I was told that Hungary introduced a tax on carbonated drinks and that in the USA they would like to do the same, also on French fries. Olive oil should be favored, not taxed, because of its healthy properties, especially as to frying fries, so that they do not generate trans fats, increasing the harm. I still think that extra virgin olive oil will anyway be more and more used. When a growing number of people will be awate of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, the medical and health aspects will become more apparent, and will induce to use such high quality fats. From the standpoint of calories, fruits are great, but one kilogram of clementine makes up for 500 calories, and it is not unusual to eat as much, causing a caloric intake similar to oil. Still, nobody will ever recommend not to eat fruit, unless on a diet. Such as fruit is instrumental for a good diet, so is olive oil for different nutraceutical and nutrigenomics aspects. We should worry more about drinks, a can of a soft drink brings about 150 calories, and two-three per day do not bring the same benefits as fruit or extra virgin olive oil. Fat individuals are patients, because they suffer from a chronic inflammation, but consuming olive oil limits their damages. Too many drink 2-3 soft drinks per day, especially during the Summer, but how many have 50 ml of olive oil which make up for the same amount of calories?”

Maybe Danish parliament members are not aware of this, but Caramia insists, hoping that politicians could open their mind: “Chemicals and additives (colorants, preservatives, saponifiers), present in soft drinks (and complying with laws) can produce, if we can say so, the same effects of urban waste in addition to obesity! It is right to worry about atmospheric pollution, but chemicals, additives which are ever more numerous, well, are we so sure that their additive effect is so harmless? Can we only focus on air pollution and forget about chemicals we get through food?”.

This is an important question which requires wisdom. Thus, Danish parliament members, admit your ignorance about fats. They cannot just be all condemned without distinctions. Come on! Follow the teaching of who knows the matter and does not believe it is rightful at all to tax food deserving a much different consideration. “Normal quantities of olive oil can only do good. And if you want to cut on calories, do that on other food: soft drinks, snacks, French fries,…”

by Luigi Caricato
05 december 2011, World News > Europe

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