PARIS – Restaurants in France face prosecution starting today if they offer unlimited fizzy drinks to customers in the latest Gallic crackdown on obesity.
France had already enforced a tax on sweet drinks in 2012. Now, a new decree makes it illegal to sell unlimited amounts of drinks with sugar or sweetener at a fixed price or for free.
The ban, which was published in the government’s Journal Officiel website on Thursday and came into force Friday, applies to all soft drinks “fountains” in areas open to the public, including restaurants, fast food chains, schools and holiday camps. It outlaws unlimited “flavoured fizzy and non-fizzy drinks, concentrated drinks like fruit syrups, drinks based on water, milk, cereal, vegetables or fruit,” but also “sports and energy drinks, fruit nectar, vegetable nectar and similar products.”
Ikea, the home improvement chain, has removed drink fountains from its 33 centres around France, but other vendors, including the fast food chain Quick, waited until Friday to change their drink fountain set-up.
Five Guys, a newcomer in France, was reported to have opted to add microchips to cups so when customers try to get a refill from its fountains, they automatically switch off. Parliament approved the ban in April 2015 and enshrined it in law in January last year as part of drive to reduce obesity.
A recent study suggested that half of French adults are overweight. However; only 15 per cent are technically obese. A person with a body mass index (weight divided by the square of height) of 30 or more is considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.