French Women Do Get Fat

Despite well-publicised claims to the contrary, French women do get fat, and they are getting fatter, as are men, according to a recent study carried out by the French national statistical office INSEE. The study shows that since 1981 there has been an increase in the corpulence of both men and women, which has been particularly pronounced since 1990. In 2003 INSEE calculated there were 3.6 million obese adults, amounting to around 10% of both the female and male population alike and a figure twice as high as that in 1981. If the lower measure of simply being ‘overweight’ is used then Insee calculate nearly 35% of men and 21% were carrying too much fat, up from 30% for men, and from 16% for women. Whilst this evolution could be observed in adults of all ages, there were major differences as between social class, profession, and geographic area. Amongst occupational groups, French farmers are the most overweight, and those living in the North and East are more likely to be overweight than those living in the Ile de France or the Mediterranean region. Whilst in 1981 the average weight of men was 72kg and for women 59kg, in 2003 these figures had increased to 77kg and 63kg. The height of men and women has increased by an average of 3cm, to reach 1m 75cm and 1m 63cm respectively. Insee do not consider that this increase in weight is due to an aging population, for the greatest increases have been amongst younger people under 35 years. They argue that the reasons for the increase have been economic and social. Nevertheless, France remains one of the least overweight nations in Europe, with rates around half of that of the UK.


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