Alarmed by rising obesity levels, MPs of the French parliament voted to ban free refills of soft drinks from ‘soda fountains’ at restaurants and fast food chains after deep deliberation on the controversial health reforms package last week.

The sugary drinks are targeted to be a major cause of obesity and have prompted the French government to design a law that would tackle the menace.

The amendment, proposed by Arnaud Richard, centrist UDI MP, stated: "It is the role of the law to fix a framework to protect the population against commercial competition which aims to make something free to entice customers and encourage them to consume unhealthy products excessively."

Supporting the amendment, Marisol Touraine, France’s Health Minister, said: "This habit is common in other countries and it is increasingly taking hold in France. 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 free refill was launched in September 2014 at France’s leading fast-food chain, Quick. This necessary ritual in most US restaurants usually happens with customers helping themselves from ‘soda fountains’ after being served an empty cup along with their food.

French McDonald’s did not take to the scheme, but KFC adopted the free refill route.

But before becoming a law, the controversial bill must be okayed by the French Senate and only after the ministerial decree, will the list of soft drinks be published.

Stressing on free availability of water as it is the "only essential drink", France’s new national nutrition programme plans to consumption among children drinking more than half a glass of soft drinks by 25%.

For long, France has been fighting to ban health compromising products, particularly in schools. The government had banned vending machines from schools in 2004, permitting only those machines that sold fruit and water products inside them. In 2011, ketchup was prohibited inside school cafeterias with French fries and chips allowed only once a week.

Bruno Le Maire, the then agriculture and food minister, had declared: "France must be an example to the world in the quality of its food, starting with its children."

According to a 2011 market analysis by Euromonitor, among Western European countries, except for Portugal, France consumed the least number of soft drinks per person averaging 45 litres per year. The UK average went up to about 84 litres of soft drinks per year, while the Americans averaged 170 litres per annum.

To curb the rising American consumption of sodas, Michael Bloomberg the former mayor of New York, attempted to ban soft drinks being sold in bottles or cans bigger than half a litre, in 2012. However, the plan fizzled out as it was termed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.