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

The Danish government is applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 per cent saturated fats, in a bid to combat obesity and heart disease.

The new tax will be levied on food such as butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat. It means customers will be paying about $3 more per kilogram of saturated fats in a product.

Prices rose Saturday in many grocery stores as the tax came into force, while some customers cleared out shelves earlier in the week to stock up on fatty favourites.

Food industry managers have complained that the tax will be a bureaucratic nightmare.

in 2004, Denmark declared war on trans fats, making it illegal for any food to have more than two per cent of the artery-clogging oils. Austria has a similar law. In July 2010, Denmark imposed a tax on sugary junk food.

About 10 per cent of Danes are considered obese. Britain is the fattest nation in Europe; one third of children and nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

More than one in every four Canadian adults and almost one in 11 children are obese, with a body mass index of more than 30, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.