Obesity in France and America


Recently I wrote a paper for my French class on the difference between obesity in France and America. How America was the most obese country until a few months ago when Mexico toppled our numbers. It’s a growing concern for today’s youth and it seems to be a problem for military recruitment. It’s even a huge issue where health is a concern. Have a read and see what you think.

Obesity in France and America

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article for the Atlantic, There Are No Fat People In Paris, can easily be seen as false. Granted there are a lot of thin, healthy looking people in Paris, but you will find a small handful of obese people there as well and a larger number of obese people all around France.

Only seven million of France’s population is obese, making France one of the few countries in the world with obesity issues (telegraph). One hundred and four million of American’s are obese, making up one third of America’s population (cdc). America use to hold the record for the most obese country in the world, until recently.

How does France continue to be one of the healthiest countries in the world when butter is served in all of the dishes and bread is served with every meal (the atlantic). You would think a meal full of fat and carbs would be an issue, but in France it is not. There are stairs everywhere; they are more noticeable than the elevators (the atlantic). With the elevators nearly hidden, it only makes the stairs look mandatory to take. The French in Paris walk everywhere, making it seem as if it is part of their culture (the atlantic).

A few things that you will have to look hard to find are gyms and junk food (the atlantic). There is no need to go to the gym if you are walking everywhere or always taking the stairs. According to USA Today, “the French eat three meals a day and do not snack in between meals.”  What better way is there to burn off all of those carbs, fat, and calories then walking everywhere you go or taking the stairs instead of the elevator?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the French do not over indulge their plates in one sitting as the American’s do. The French have smaller servings on their plates, including their deserts. They even chew smaller bites, and eat fresher food (Girls Guide To Paris). The Girls Guide To Paris also states, that the French are taught proper eating habits at an early age, and that they are very structured. They also sip alcoholic beverages with their meals, rather than taking huge gulps. The French also take their time when eating, which could lead to a two hour lunch break.

Eating in France almost sounds like eating is an art of leisure. While here in America the stress of trying to find the time to eat during our thirty minute lunch break, results in forcing ourselves to eat unhealthy, fast food. Overindulging in fast food results in heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, all of which is relatively high in the United States, but not in France.

Stores located in most of the cities here in America are stretched far from one another that it makes walking from one place to another seem nearly impossible. Everyone drives to their destinations. There are quite a few promenade’s here and there, but in order to walk around to window shop or sight see you have to drive there.

The culture between the French and the American’s are each different. It would be interesting to see how the percentages of obese people will look twenty years from now in France, as well as in America. Will the French catch up to us? Will the numbers of obesity in America start to dwindle? However the numbers, obesity is a health concern. It not only affects adults, but our youth as well.

Links for my cited work:

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9612225/Number-of-obese-people-in-France-doubles-to-seven-million.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/category/paris

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/food-eating-habits-france-12279.html

http://girlsguidetoparis.com/archives/how-french-women-eat-rich-and-stay-slim/

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4 thoughts on “Obesity in France and America

  1. Jae

    I have a friend from Mexico who is stick thin and I LOVED teasing him about how his country toppled ours for obesity. 😉 I think you’re right about our being rushed being a part of it. When I can bring meals from home I tend to maintain or lose weight. But when (like today unfortunately) I haven’t had time to prepare good food I grab what I can from wherever. *sigh* Preparation needs to happen. And soon.

    Reply
    1. JennNAdams Post author

      It’s horrible when you only have 30mins for lunch and only have time for an unhealthy burger from a grease truck. Even in the navy there were times when I couldn’t grab a healthy meal and snacked on goldfish crackers and M&M’s. I’m just curious what it would be like if we were more health conscious enough to be given the opportunity to eat better at work.

      Reply
  2. Eagle-Eyed Editor

    Interesting observations about the health differences between the French and the Americans. I agree with Jae about being rushed, but you can still eat healthfully. Maybe some of it is just about planning ahead and making sure that there is only healthful food to grab when you need it. I like to “cook ahead” on weekends and put individual servings of items such as tomato Florentine soup into my freezer, easy to grab and go that way.

    I think the French have it right. I’m guessing that they know how to slow down and savor. (Never been to France, so I’m guessing.)

    Reply

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