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How Is France Trying to Tackle Obesity?

The French have an old saying that means: "we should eat to live, not live to eat." In an effort to put that adage into action, in 2017 the French government got involved in the fast-food world by banning free soda refills. The law followed closely on the heels of a study that found that 56.8 percent of French men over 30 and 40.9 percent of French women of the same age were obese or overweight. Specifically, the law made it illegal for any eatery to sell an unlimited amount of soda at a fixed price or offer unlimited amounts for free. The ban includes carbonated and flavored drinks, sports and energy drinks, and fruit syrups. The limitation is one in a series of precedent-setting bans that France has instituted in the hopes of making people healthier. In 2011, school cafeterias had to remove ketchup and could offer french fries and chips only once a week, and in 2004, schools were told to get rid of all vending machines except those that offer fruit and water.

Food for thought in France:

  • Grocery stores in France must donate unsold food items to charities that feed the poor, rather than throwing away food.

  • Thomas Jefferson brought the french fry recipe to America after a trip to France as an ambassador in the late 18th century.

  • French restaurants usually offer baguettes for free, and the nation produces approximately 10 billion of the bready delights every year.

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