France began enacting its war against sugary beverages today, promising to prosecute restaurants that serve up unlimited sodas to customers.
French officials passed a measure in 2015 banning restaurants, fast food chains, schools, and holiday camps from offering free or fixed-priced soft drink refills. That means all flavored or concentrated beverages, sports and energy drinks, fruit and vegetable nectars, and other similar products.
Though the law was enacted today, it passed some time ago and some chains had already taken steps to respond to the measure. Take IKEA: the furniture chain removed its soda fountains from French stores shortly after the measure passed.
But several others waited until today to reveal how they would change their soda stations. According to The Telegraph, Quick—a popular fast-food chain in France — "change[d ]their drink fountain set-up," while Five Guys—a U.S.-based burger joint that recently opened locations in France — has "opted to add microchips to cups," the newspaper reports. When customers attempt to refill their cups, the microchip will scan and the fountain will automatically shut off.
France enacted the measure as a way to combat obesity. But interestingly, a recent survey of adult obesity shows France's obesity rate is slightly less than the average obesity rate across the EU, perhaps because they already consume fewer high-sugar drinks than their other European counterparts. Recent research shows the French drank 65.5 liters per capita of sugary beverages in 2015, but citizens of the United Kingdom drank 106.6 liters per capita that same year, according to The Telegraph.
With the measure now being enforced at every soda fountain, those numbers are sure to drop still—or people will have to get very creative with how they get their liquid sugar fix.
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