While Australia prevaricates about adopting a tax on sugary drinks, the French have enforced a ban on even giving the stuff away.
The French government’s Journal Officiel website says the ban applies to all soft drinks in public spaces, including restaurants, fast food-chains and schools. That means free refills, or unlimited deals on any kind of sweet drinks, including fruit nectars and sports drinks, are forbidden.
Health Minister Marisol Touraine warned two years ago that the practice of giving away excessively sweet drinks was a trap for young people.
“This habit is common in other countries and it is increasingly taking hold in France,” she said. “I understand it can be attractive for young people who are offered unlimited sugary drinks, which contain an excessive amount of sugar or sweeteners.”
The French imposed a sugar tax in 2012. Next year, Britain will follow suit.
The Australian Greens have vowed to introduce a sugary drinks tax bill this year if the government does not act to stop the obesity epidemic.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians consume the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of sugar a day in additives.
Last year, the committee of presidents of medical colleges labelled obesity Australia’s most pressing public health issue and called for it to be reclassified as a chronic disease.
“There is no doubt at all that these drinks are unhealthy, and price signals work,” AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said.