Viva la fat

As the rate of obesity in France rises, the country might lose its skinny crown, says the Economist.

According to researchers:

  • The rate of obesity in France has started to swell, rising from 8 per cent of the adult population in 1977 to 11 per cent by 2003.
  • Over 40 per cent of the French are now considered overweight, and France has the same share of fat people today as America did in 1991 – and an upward trend to match.
  • Even though French figures are based on polls asking people if they are fat, denial inevitably intrudes causing self-reporting to produce underestimates.

    Either way, France's politicians have started to notice; in October, a parliamentary report called for a public health campaign and a law has been passed to impose a 1.5 per cent tax on the advertising budget of food companies if they do not encourage healthy eating, says the Economist.

    But what has happened to France's waistline? The simple answer: France has latched on to the fast-food culture:
  • France is one of the biggest and most profitable European markets for McDonald's.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast-food joints are spreading across the country.
  • Frozen pizzas and fizzy drinks are also nibbling away at the traditional family mean, particularly in poorer households.

    Source: Editorial, Gross National Product, Economist, December 24, 2005.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 21 February 2006
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