It’s hard not to gloat. According to NPR’s Morning Edition, nearly 40% of French women now wear a size 14 or above. After years and years of hearing how French women can eat rich cheeses, long loaves of crusty bread and decadent desserts and still remain pencil thin, the news comes as a comfort to the millions of American women who try to pretend they’re satisfied after a couple of ounces of tasteless frozen diet meals.
Mireille Guiliano’s 2004 best selling diet book French Women Don’t Get Fat made the rounds of the talk shows with her claims that American women could enjoy the same svelte figures as French women if they just followed their European cousins’ culinary example. Cook with butter and cream, eat bread, drink wine, and enjoy dessert, and still wear a size 6. The freedom from lists of forbidden foods or surrendered pleasures made her book, and the accompanying interactive website, an instant success with American women weary of seeing food – and their waistlines – as the enemy.
But the latest statistics suggest that indeed French women (and men) do get fat and are doing so in increasing large numbers. But before Americans offer up a hearty butter and cream drenched serving of crow to the French, they need to take note of the reason for the change in French waistlines. The French are now eating like Americans.
Where once the French ate 3 or 4 leisurely meals a day, with little or no snacking between, American tastes for fast food and calorie-laden snacks have replaced the traditional mealtimes. More time is being spent in cars and in front of the television instead of walking to school and appointments. And wine and cigarettes, long the bane of French health, have been replaced with chips and mass produced cookies.
Along with technology, music and celebrities, America is now exporting obesity. Apparently not satisfied that our own population is overweight in record numbers, we are sharing our bad eating and lifestyle habits with the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is eating it up. Instead of learning from our bad example, populations from Japan to France are adopting our fattening diet and couch-potato ways, resulting in 2-3 fold increases in adult obesity over the past 20 years. The heck with spreading democracy – we’re sharing the American way of life, one coronary at a time.
Perhaps the crow should be on our plates. And pass the fries.del.icio.us | digg it! | reddit! | Google!