France Bans Free Soda Refills

Until I visited France, I had always thought that a person’s weight simply increases irrevocably as one ages. One day in Paris, however, clarified that misinformation. The lean-ness of the citizens struck me, particularly of the chic older people. Grandpas and grannies strolled their trim figures around the the Jardin de Luxembourg, their beige trench coats cinched at the waist. However, that first trip to Paris was in 1982. Today, the typical French physique is larger: 57% of men and 41% of women aged 30 to 60 years old are overweight or obese, according to a recent study.

So it’s no surprise that France is the #2 market for McDonald’s. They frickin’ LOVE “McDo.” And that is part of the reason why France, while still Europe’s slimmest nation, has a population with expanding waistlines. There are several reasons for this trend–the convenience and low cost of the food, the clever marketing by the fast-food chain. But it’s also part of a global move away from home-cooked, sit-down diners and towards dining on the go.

It does not bode well for the health of the nation, so France has just done something to try to buck the trend. It has just passed a law making it illegal to offer free refills on sodas in restaurants. (A patron is welcome to purchase a second or third pop, of course.)

This was a smart move by French legislators. Instead of levying a tax on sugary drinks, as Mexico has done (to measurable success, but despite controversy), the country simply prevents a restaurant from giving away a freebie. Soda refills are a relatively new thing anyway–they certainly weren’t a thing in the ’80s. I seriously doubt this will hurt the beloved McDo. What do you think?