The Andalusian government has approved a bill that makes the region the first to have legal measures in place to fight obesity. The official name of this new law is the 'Ley para la Promoción de una Vida Saludable y una Alimentación Equilibrada' (The Law to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle and a Balanced Diet), and it will include plans to extend anti-obesity measures to town halls and integrate them into existing measures.
Obesity affects 16.6 per cent of the adult population in Andalucía and 23 per cent of the child population, as the regional health minister, Marina Álvarez, explained on Tuesday at a press conference. This law especially targets young people, pregnant women, 15.2 per cent of whom are obese, old people and disadvantaged social groups.
When the bill becomes active, many establishments will be forced to offer drinking water free of charge. The installation of drinking fountains in schools, public places and children's play centres will be a legal requirement. The new regulations require vending machine manufacturers to include free water in their products. In addition, bars and restaurants will have to provide complimentary jugs of drinking water to all customers.
Within two years, schools must establish a timetable which includes a recommended minimum of five hours of exercise per week. Additionally, a set of rules to discourage the consumption of high calorie foods and soft drinks among children under 15 will be laid out.
Under the restrictions, it will become illegal to sell food containing over 200 kilocalories and secondary schools will be required to display the calorie content of foods in vending machines and canteens.
The new law plans to include initiatives for the distribution of fruits and vegetables and the planting of vegetable gardens in schools, starting with the areas with most social deprivation.
The bill includes clauses which require restaurants to offer multiple portion sizes and have healthy options on the menu. Nutritional values of all foods sold commercially will have to be displayed to allow for comparison of products within the same brand and between different brands.
As well as the new nutrition laws, laws to promote a healthy lifestyle will be implemented. In companies of over 50 employees, bicycle parking will have to be installed.
The government plans to create a programme to promote exercise and healthy eating in Andalucía and is considering imposing fines to encourage people to follow the programme.