NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

VIVA LA FAT!

January 26, 2006

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 percent of the adult population in 1977 to 11 percent by 2003.
  • Over 40 percent 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 percent 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.

For text (subscription required):

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5328398

 

Browse more articles on International Issues