In 2004, vending machines were banned from schools in France. Then in 2011, the government limited the servings of French fries at schools to once per week. In 2012, France imposed its soda tax.
The government on Friday took another step saying that restaurants could not offer any free refills for sugary drinks including soda.
The latest regulation is the most recent attempt by the government to tackle what it calls a relentless increase in the national rate of obesity. Fast food establishments, usually multinational chains, will be targeted under this new legislation.
The law, which has immediate effect, said it was aimed at limiting, especially amongst younger people, the risk of diabetes and obesity.
The new measure by France falls in line with World Health Organization recommendations that urged countries to tax sugary drinks to fight the increase of obesity and presenting data last year on the beneficial effects to health of a tax of that kind.
On average, the French are less overweight than most Americans and other Europeans. The percentage of obese adults, who are 18 years of age or older in France, was only 15.3% during 2014, below the average in the European Union of 15.9%.
Malta owns the highest adult obesity percentage for all countries in Europe at 26%. The U.S. has a rate of 36.5% according to its Center for Disease Control.
While the adult obesity rate overall in France seems to be low, 57% of men along with 41% of women between the ages of 30 and 60 were either overweight or obese, showed a report released last October.
France has been a leader in battling the issue as has Japan and a few other countries. In Japan, a national law requires businesses and governments at the local level to measure waistlines of people aged 40 to 74 and encourage them to exercise.
Mexico has added a surcharge of 10% on all sugary drinks since 2014 to lower its surging level of diabetes. After only one year, the sales of those beverages dropped by 12%, while purchases of bottled water increased 4%, showed a just released study.
Similar efforts have started in the U.S. Philadelphia is the first major U.S. city in 2017 to introduces a new tax on sugary drinks, including soda, which provoked much public outrage.
The health board of New York City approved in 2012 a plan by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban sales of large sugar drinks by restaurants as well as in other venues, but that was struck down by a court in 2013. The appeal by the Bloomberg administration was lost.
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