A huge debate has been sparked by a major decision in France that affects anyone hoping to get a free soda refill at restaurants.
France has just taken an action that has stirred up worldwide debate about the future of health regulations: they’ve banned unlimited refills of soft drinks at restaurants in a law that went into effect on Friday over increasing worries about obesity among French residents. Specifically, the law makes it illegal to sell unlimited soft drinks at a fixed price, and applies to all soft drinks and sports drinks offered in public spaces.
France’s obesity rate among adults sits at 15.3 percent, which is actually slightly below the average for the European Union, but that number is still way too high for officials’ liking. In fact, by age 30, 57 percent of men and 41 percent of women in France are expected to become overweight or obese.
Vending machines were banned in France back in 2004, and even ketchup was booted from school cafeteries in 2011, with limitations placed on how often fries could be served. Now, France is going a step further by cracking down on soft drinks, which have long been blamed as a major factor in the obesity epidemic plaguing Western countries.
Here is what a recent statement from the University of East Anglia says on what kind of policy measures could be instituted to discourage sugary drinks: “The wider economic benefits of a tax on sugary drinks need to be recognised by policymakers if retailers’ pricing behaviour is to be changed, according to a study led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).”
“The researchers argue that economic welfare would be improved if firms could be dissuaded from using ‘value size’ pricing – which involves deliberately selling larger size drinks at much lower unit prices than smaller sizes – and this economic benefit would be in addition to the health benefit from reduced consumption of harmful sugary drinks.
“Such value size pricing is exceptionally harmful when it leads to excessive consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks, as well as exploiting consumers who wish to limit their consumption and stick to smaller sizes for their own health and enjoyment.”