People are clashing over in France over a major effort by French politicians to regulate the behavior of restaurants and the citizens who dine at them.
France has taken a major action that not everyone is happy with: they’ve decided to totally ban unlimited refills of soft drinks at restaurants around the country. The law went into effect Friday and is meant to battle growing obesity among the French, making it illegal to sell unlimited soft drinks at a fix drinks. It’s a law that applies not only to soft drinks but to sports drinks, and it’s causing some consternation among the soft drink industry.
While the obesity rate in France is below the European average at 15.3 percent, it’s still very high, and experts expect that 57 percent of men and 41 percent women will be obese or at least overweight by age 30. France made another controversial move in 2004 by banning vending machines, and also ketchup from school cafeterias in 2011.
But this latest move shows the lengths that France is willing to go to cut down on soft drinks, which have been a major focus of health experts who say that sugary drinks is a major driver of obesity in Western countries worldwide.
But the ban has been met with anger by many who claim that they should be able to decide what they eat without interference from the government. And restaurant complain that the new regulations are unnecessarily onerous on them. Coca-Cola and other soft drink companies have slammed such measures in the past, claiming that they won’t do much to reduce obesity and that the negative effects of sugary drinks are exaggerated.
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.”