France bans unlimited soda refills

  • By Usma Shaheen

France bans unlimited refills on sugary soft drinks

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Restaurants and other spaces catering to the public in France have been banned from offering unlimited sugary drinks in an effort to reduce obesity.

Under the law which takes effect tody, it is illegal to sell unlimited soft drinks at a fixed price or offer unlimited refills for free.

France’s level of adult obesity is close, yet just under the EU average.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends taxing sugary drinks, linking them to obesity and diabetes.

Self-service “soda fountains” have long been a feature of family restaurants and cafes in some countries like the UK, where a soft drinks tax will be introduced next year.

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A 10% tax introduced in Mexico, where cola is so popular they use it for cooking meat, reduced consumption by 6% in the first year.

Before today’s all-you-can-drink ban, France already had a soft drinks tax, and vending machines are barred from schools.

In 2013, USA, famous for their oversized portions, a New York court threw out a proposed city ban on sales of large sugary drinks, which would have imposed a 500ml limit on drinks sold in venues including restaurants and stadiums

The new law (in French) targets soft drinks, including sports drinks containing added sugar or sweeteners.

All public eateries, from fast-food joints to school canteens, are affected.

The aim of the law is to “limit, especially among the young, the risks of obesity, overweight and diabetes” in line with WHO recommendations.

Yet past the age of 30, nearly 57% of French men are overweight or obese, according to a report published in October by the French medical journal Bulletin Epidemiologique Hebdomadaire.

Some 41% of women in the same age category are also overweight or obese, the study found.

Considerably lower than the figures from the UK but drastically higher than in Italy.

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