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HEALTH

French supermarkets to test colour-coded ‘nutrition logos’

Four logos are going to be added to selected products in French supermarkets in a bid to see if they'll make customers eat healthier.

French supermarkets to test colour-coded 'nutrition logos'
Photo: AFP
Usually you're told to read the small print, but soon it might not be necessary – at least if we're talking about the list of ingredients on the back of supermarket items. 
 
The new idea, revealed by France's health minister on Tuesday, is simple:
 
Four colours, four different levels of nutrition. These labels get added to over 800 products in 50 supermarkets across France.
 
“My goal is to get everyone to evaluate what they're buying with a simple glance,” Health Minster Marisol Touraine told Le Parisien newspaper.
Researchers will monitor people's buying habits, then compare them with those of shoppers in other supermarkets that don't have the nutritional labels on their products.
 
“Obviously this isn't about comparing a tub of yoghurt with a pizza – it's about making a choice between two different yoghurts or two pizzas,” Touraine said. 
 
She added that the move was part of a larger fight to get France healthy, not least considering that a third of French people were overweight and that the number of diabetics was on the rise.
 
The experiment will begin in September and run for three months. If successful, Touraine aims to roll the new colour-coding system out across France next year. 
 
France saw a raft of controversial health reforms last year, part of which saw a crackdown on obesity. It included the banning of unlimited refills of soft drinks and harsher penalties for binge drinkers.  
 
Photo: Tobyotter/Flickr

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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