The Generalitat Valenciana has said that it will not introduce a new tax on sweetened beverages, like that applied in Catalonia last week but it intends to ban the consumption of these drinks with high sugar content.

A decree that is currently being processed by the Ministry of Health will prohibit the sale of soft drinks and confectionery in vending machines that are situated in all public buildings. That will include schools, hospitals and many other such establishments which are managed by the government and local councils.

The draft of the law, which was discussed last Tuesday by the Valencian Department of Health runs by Carmen Montón, states that “in educational, medical and social services centres, vending machines containing food and beverages may carry only bottled water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yogurts with no added sugar, whole grain bread, fresh fruit, non-fried and low-salt nuts, added sugar-free soft drinks and fruit juices’.

The Generalitat states that childhood obesity is a public health problem that seriously worries the Ministry. The latest data from the most recent public study carried out in 2014 indicates that 30.4% of children 0 to 16 years of age are overweight while in Valencia 11.8% suffer from childhood obesity. Those most affected are children between the ages of eight and twelve.

The Murcia Community already applies such rules in hospitals and they now state that they too will move a stage further by removing sugary drinks and confectionery from all vending machines to be found in health centres.

Acton is also being taken in the community by the Departments of Health and Education who are now carrying out inspections of school menus in more than 1,400 school canteens where inspectors are tightening nutritional standards aimed at making school lunches much healthier.

“But can you force children to eat healthily,” said one headteacher. “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the rubbish they aren’t getting any nutrition at all, thus undermining the intent of the program.”