You won’t likely ever find bread, cheese, or wine in limited quantities in French restaurants, but the same can’t be said for soda, as the country has just imposed a new regulation banning restaurants from offering unlimited refills on sodas.
The French are known for their love of rich food while staying slim and healthy, but new data shows obesity rates in the country are on the rise as U.S.-based and other fast food restaurants continue to gain traction.
According to The New York Times, the French are less overweight than most Europeans (and Americans), “the overall adult obesity rate in France appears to be relatively low, 57 percent of men and 41 percent of women 30 to 60 years old were overweight or obese.” The Times cites a report published in a French medical journal.
And the country intends to keep its obesity rates low with the new ban on refills, which goes into effect immediately.
“France has been at the forefront of tackling the issue, along with countries like Japan, where a national law requires companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of people between the ages of 40 and 74, and to encourage them to exercise,” the Times reports.
"This habit is common in other countries and it is increasingly taking hold in France,” France's Health Minister Marisol Tourain said in 2015 of the nation's rising soda consumption. Last October the World Health Organization called for global action in reducing the risks of type-2 diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay by limiting worldwide soda intake.
Soda has become an easy target in the fight against obesity. It poses no nutritional value and is easily replaced with healthier options like water.
Efforts to tax soda and sugary soft drinks have also proven effective. In Mexico, the world leader in soda consumption, a ten percent soda tax has helped to reduce sales by as much as twelve percent.
The U.S. has followed suit with several major cities passing soda taxes recently, including Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. While it’s too soon to measure the benefits of those cities’ recent taxes, the 2015 soda tax passed in Berkeley, Calif. appears to be showing signs of reducing the city’s soda consumption rates.
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