Trial over weight-loss pill behind ‘up to 2,000 deaths’ to start in France

French drug watchdog along with pharmaceutical firm Servier on trial over Mediator drug scandal

A landmark trial over one of France’s biggest healthcare scandals will begin on Monday after a weight-loss pill was believed to have killed up to 2,000 people and left many more injured for life.

The trial for manslaughter and deceit will attempt to lift the lid on France’s massive pharmaceuticals industry.

Servier, one of France’s biggest and most powerful privately-owned laboratories, is accused of covering up the killer side-effects of a widely prescribed drug called Mediator. The French country narcotic regulator is accused of lenience and not acting to prevent patient deaths and injuries.

The Mediator pill was an amphetamine derivative marketed to overweight diabetics but it was often prescribed to healthy girls as an appetite suppressant if they wanted to lose a few pounds. Even healthy, slim and sporty females were prescribed it by their doctors who advised they should take it in order to avoid weight gain.

As many as 5 million people were given the drug between 1976 and 2009, despite the fact that it was suspected of causing heart and pulmonary failure. The health ministry found at least 500 people died of heart valve trouble in France because of exposure to Mediator’s active ingredient, but other estimates by doctors set the figure closer to 2,000. Thousands more live with debilitating health problems.

Some women, who began taking the drug while in good health, saw themselves unable to climb a flight of stairs and were left with permanent cardiovascular problems that limited their daily lives. Servier has paid out almost EUR1 32 m( PS116m) in compensation.

The trial will seek to establish why the medication was on the market for so long in France. Lawyers argue that Servier laboratory intentionally misinformed patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities. The drugmaker has been accused of making at least EUR1bn from the drug, while knowing of its dangers.

The French drug regulator, the Agence National de Securite du Medicament, is on trial accused of not taking sufficient steps to check and control the drug. It has been accused of being too slow to act and being too close to pharmaceutical companies. The watchdog has said it would cooperate with the trial and was now abiding by stricter ethics rules.

The alarm was raised in 2007 when Irene Frachon, a lung specialist from a Brittany hospital, assessed patients’ records and warned of a link between Mediator and serious heart and pulmonary damage.

” The trial comes as huge relief. Eventually, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal ,” Frachon said this week.” This so-called medicine is in reality a poison.

The drug was not withdrawn from the market in France until 2009, two years after Frachon created alarm systems and many more years after it had been pulled in Spain and Italy. It was never authorised in the UK or US.

In the 677 -page French indictment, magistrates wrote that Servier” knowingly concealed the medication’s true characteristics” from the 1970 s and hid medical studies unfavourable to the product, perpetrating a long-term fraud.

The scandal has raged for more than a decade, sparking a political row about drugs regulation and the lobbying power of pharmaceutical companies in France, which has one of Europe’s highest levels of consumption of prescription drugs.

The vast trial, with 21 defendants and more than 2,600 plaintiffs, will last six months and is set to be one of the longest court cases in Paris for decades. It has been likened in its time frame to the 1997 trial of the former police chief, Maurice Papon, convicted for his role in sending 1,700 Jews to Nazi death camps between 1942 and 1944.

It has taken more than 10 years for the suit to come to court.” The fact that a trial is ultimately taking place is, in itself, a victory for the victims ,” said Charles Joseph-Oudin, a lawyer for 250 plaintiffs.

Servier has said it did not lie about the effects of the therapy and hoped to demonstrate it did not act against patients’ interests.

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‘EUR5, 000 would be a deterrent’: the French minister who are interested sexual harassment penalties

Meet Marlne Schiappa, the 34 -year old blogger and novelist at the heart of Emmanuel Macrons revolution

The walk from the Gare du Nord across the Seine to Frances centre of power, a string of houses off the Quai dOrsay, takes a pleasant, circuitous hour: the route is a tourists dreaming. But for Marlne Schiappa, Frances freshly appointed gender equality minister, the streets of Paris are the frontline in a war between the sexes. Where I watch boutiques and fruit and vegetable stalls, coffeehouse and splendid architecture, Schiappas eye is drawn instead to the idling humen ogling young lady; to the handsome displays in every pharmacy window ad weight-loss solutions Minceur Th Vert( Slimming Green Tea ), Ventre Plat( Flat Stomach and illustrated by pictures of delighted young lady use a tape measure as a skipping rope. France is paradoxical, Schiappa tells me. We are the country of Simone de Beauvoir, of feminist hypothesi and philosophy. But we are also a Latin country with entrenched stereotypes.

She greets me warmly in what must have once been a grand dining room; the parliamentary district in the 7th arrondissement has not changed much since its vast mansions were built for nobility in the 18 th century. It is the day before Theresa May will gratify Emmanuel Macron, Frances youngest ever president, who assumed office on 14 May. At 39, with no campaigning experience, Macron has surrounded himself with young cabinet members who are new to politics, as a style of making a clean break with his socialist predecessor Francois Hollande. This week he made businesswoman Florence Parly minister for the armed forces( defence for four of the EUs five largest economies is now overseen by women ); he has appointed Tv presenter Nicolas Hulot as environmental and social transition minister( the equivalent of Theresa May devoting David Attenborough a cabinet post ).

But Macrons most contentious appointment is Schiappa, at 34 a very young are part of his cabinet, whom he has put in charge of equality between men and women, with a brief to tackle the gender pay gap and be enhanced women rights in the workplace. A former ad executive-turned-author, shes best known as a campaigner and blogger, and has outraged Frances right wing with her unapologetic feminism.

She presents me into her airy, high-ceilinged office where we sit on new modern chairs, her replacing for the stuffy furniture that used to be here. This is the room where Schiappa has begun hauling in public figures to call them out on sexist behaviour( and then tweet about whether the session aimed satisfactorily ). She wears gold hoop earrings, her long, thick hair pulled back in a loose knot, and is friendly and straightforward in a way thats still rare in top-level politics.

Schiappa said today Macron did particularly well with female voters in the presidential elections. Why does she think that is? He was the first to say, Im a feminist. Second, because he believes in parity in parliament. Exactly half his cabinet is female. Plus, she says, unlike other politicians, he went out and listened to people. Genuinely listened.

Schiappas first objective is to tackle sexual harassment on the street. Its a huge phenomenon in France. Its that moment when a man is walking behind a woman, talking to her, and the woman can do nothing, because shes alone. She doesnt scream for help, because she thinks, Its not that bad, Ill walk, Ill escape. Men feel its acceptable: theyre being the French devotee. Women are molested on public transport so frequently, Schiappa says, that many will dress in ways to avoid it before they use the Mtro or bus. Its enough of a problem that the previous government launched an anti-harassment campaign called Stop: Thats Enough to encourage people to report any incidents. In France, if a woman is sexually assaulted, her first believe is, Now Im dirty and no one will ever want to marry me the social responsibility of the victim.

Her solution is on-the-spot penalties. Macron has pledged to expand the police force by 10,000 over the next five years: why not give them powers to police sexism in the same style they do smokers who fell their cigarettes? Twenty euros would be a bit humiliating, 5,000 would be more of a discouraging. At the moment, many men are saying, Its not a big deal, were only having fun. And we say, No. She says shell be nailing down a precise strategy with the justice secretary soon.

Schiappa intends to take a similarly revolutionary approach to closing the pay gap. In France, girls earn between 12% and 27% less than men, depending on sector. Her proposal is that major companies will be invited to consult privately with the government on solutions. Those who reject will be named and shamed.

She is also keen to discuss what she describes as Frances culture of rape. Minimising rape or finding excuses, she clarifies, before offering an example. The former vice president of the National Assembly, Denis Baupin, has been accused by eight women of sexual assault and he wasnt fired. Baupin denies the allegations, some of which date back 15 years, and has cease his role after pressure from political leaders and the press. No charges were brought because the statute of limitations had expired( in France, “its just” three years for sexual harassment lawsuits ).

Marlne Schiappa and Emmanuel Macron on modes of public transport in Le Mans, October 2016. Photograph: Chamussy/ Sipa/ Rex/ Shutterstock

The French media does not help, Schiappa says: You never say the word rapist in an article in France. You say, A girl has been raped or A woman who claims to have been raped. They never say, A man raped a woman. Its to hide the rapist. Its victim-blaming.

Another part of Schiappas brief is to tackle homophobia a huge task, as illustrated by a meeting she had last week at the town hall in Le Mans. I was talking about a proposal around LGBT rights, and one man, an elected official from the far right, said, You forgot the Z. I asked him what he entailed. LGBTZ, he said. Z stands for zoophile. The official ended up making a donation to a LGBT association. As minister for equality, its business as usual for me. Theyre everywhere. Theres no need to insult them in return. We have to fight them and defend our notions, but more loudly.


Schiappa first entered politics in 2014, when she stood as a candidate in the municipal elections in Le Mans, her home suburbium. She was elected and became deputy mayor, in charge of gender equality and a technology project. The following year, she satisfied Macron, then minister of the economy under Hollande, at a French technology event. She says she fulfilled him on only 13 more occasions before the government chore was hers. In the intervening period, she worked in what was then “ve called the” Ministry of Family, Children and Womens Rights, where she drew up a new measure to introduce greater transparency in nursery applications( the French system is riddled with corruption; waiting lists are long and there are widespread accusations of bribery and favouritism ). When Macron launched his presidential campaign last August, Schiappa was quick to supporting him.

Schiappa is Corsican, and grew up in a multiracial council estate north of Paris. She has said she became a feminist at 13 when she realised how, unlike her parent( a leftwing historian ), she was unable to walk the street unharassed; she and other women in the neighborhood would plan self-defence strategies. Her parent presented her how to make a knuckle-duster out of her house keys.

She currently has two daughters aged 10 and five; her husband( whom she maintains out of the public eye) co-wrote some of her volumes. When she had her first daughter, she was working in ad. The women around me, they had one, two, three children; they were in sessions really late in the day. I was asking, How do you do this? How do you look after your children when you are working that hard? I suppose working moms has been a big subject in the United Kingdom for a long time, but in France it was not. There was no ministry of womens rights at the time, and it was not in the public debates. I began the blog[ Maman Travaille] and then set up a subsistence network of working mothers, to talk and to put together proposals for politics and companies.

The blog was a hit, in part because the head of Yahoo in France had children, loved it and promoted it online. Word spread; Schiappa was interviewed in French Elle, in Madame Figaro. She left advertising to spend more time with her daughter, then began writing fictions. She joined another ad agency, but got pregnant again, so I left. She wrote more, expanding her repertoire to non-fiction books on motherhood and feminism; titles include Letters To My Uterus and Who Are The Rapists? A novel she published in 2014, No More Than Four Hours Sleep A Night, is being turned into a film.

Schiappa debated Marine Le Pen in 2012, at a symposium arranged by French Elle. She was talking about what the extreme right called comfort abortion she invented the expres saying there were women having abortions 10 or 12 times a year and that the state poor white people was paying for it. The French far right is known for its racism and xenophobia, but less is said about its misogyny. Marine Le Pen wanted to stop state-funding for abortions, Schiappa says. Two members of parliament wrote a proposal to ban girls from working. When you are a woman who is from the suburb, and you are young, and you are to the left of politics, youre unacceptable. But the radical right has insulted every single woman before me.

How does she suppose a woman rose to the top of such a misogynistic party? Two reasons, Schiappa says: Because she adopts a masculine style. She speaks loudly shes yelling, shes screaming; she wants to humiliate the person or persons she is talking to. And because its a family business. If you are a woman and your name is not Le Pen, you cannot have a career in the Front National. Its family before women rights.

Schiappa in her office. Photo: Emmanuel Fradin for the Guardian

Of all Macrons new cabinet members, Schiappa has described the nastiest criticism. The right wing is especially irritated by her positions on Frances sexually predatory and chauvinistic male culture. Critics dislike her plans to introduce nation maternity cover for self-employed girls, and to make artificial insemination available for lesbian, older and single females( its currently available only for heterosexual couples ). They are squeamish about other campaigns: earlier this year, she was part of a group that said French mothers are being treated as crooks for have been selected to bottlefeed rather than breastfeed. Some have confiscated on one of her more light-hearted volumes about motherhood, in which she advised females how to prolong maternity benefits( humorously, she says ): Make yourself ugly, come across as traumatised, exaggerate everything; she was encouraging women to victimize the state, her critics argued. She has not escaped censure from the left, either accused of being a masculiniste( anti-feminist) for a volume she wrote more than a decade ago in kudo of the sex power of overweight women.

In the three articles Le Figaro publish about Schiappa in the week I meet her, they claim, variously, that she is the woman to save French politics; that she has an adolescents addiction to social media; and that she is a tl-feministe for posting an online video interviewing women in Paris about their experiences of sexual harassment. But the Fachosphre[ the fascist internet] and its appendages can continue their neverending flow of abhor, Schiappa tweeted last week. It will never stop me from running!

She is frustrated that some of the culture myths about French females persist: that they dont get fat; that French newborns sleep through the night; that French toddlers dont throw food. All of that is not true, Schiappa says, riled. But we hear it everywhere. Of course French females are all different weights, and weight is a factor of discrimination. What the bestsellers on French women and their supposed perfection totally miss, she says, is Frances sexist way of life. She says that married girls are still expected to abide by their devoir conjugal, or conjugal duty to have sex. Sexism travels top down: Ccile Duflot[ a Green legislator] was catcalled in the National Assembly because she was wearing a dress with blooms on it. The posture, even at the very top is, Cest la vie.

Schiappa( back row, second from left) with members of Macrons new government. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/ AFP/ Getty Images

Schiappa supports the ban on religion attire in schools, but has also argued that moms should be permitted to enter school grounds in a veil, otherwise they would be ostracised from their childrens education( they are now allowed to by statute ). But she warns against too much religion tolerance. Feminism can be stymie by the banner of anti-racism. For example, how people denied what happened in Cologne[ when there were large-scale sexual assaults on New Years Eve 2015 ]. Feminism cant have ideological roadblocks. Will her brief include Muslim communities? You know, in France, we dont think about communities. We are a revolutionary French Rpublique. There is just one community. This is a French statute, the separation between church and state. Its a statement that I doubt is widely shared across France.

When she was a freelancer, scarce childcare meant Schiappa would often take their own children to meetings. As deputy mayor, she made a point of leaving work punctually at 4pm to do the school operate. At first, I said to myself, Oh my God, Im rude. Then women came to say, Thank you for doing that, because now we are doing the same thing. So I believe, if you have the power to make these things visible, you must, because other people will benefit. When youre on a salary, its hard to tell your boss or colleagues, Hey, Im bringing my child to the session. But I utilized my power because I get to decide.

Schiappa is concerned with domestic equality, too, she says. We started with public life, and now we have to change professional and private life. People dont want the country to enter the home and tell men to clean the dishes. But gender equality is good for men, she argues. Many parents dont take their 11 days paternity leave, because they are afraid of losing their jobs.

Macron has acted rapidly on his pledge to create equality in parliament: he fielded equal number of male and female candidates in this months election, and appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, with 11 of 22 posts taken by women. Last weekends elections returned the highest ever number of female politicians( 38.5% of the seats ). We have a female ministers responsible for sport who is a former champion[ fencer Laura Flessel holds the record for the most medals won by a French female Olympian ]. And Im glad we have a woman as defence pastor, because I can tell my daughter, You can fight even if you are a woman you are able to make war, you can make peace, too. Now we have four women for every 10 people in parliament. Before Macron, it was two in 10. More women entails its going to be more unacceptable to catcall a woman if she wears a flowery dress to work.

Half of Macrons new legislators are complete unknowns, reflecting a wider change in politics in the west. This is a rejection of the creation that Schiappa is proud to be part of. Yes, more people from civil society are coming into politics, she says. I think we realise that we need real people , not notions or abstractions. This is real life we tell it like it is. What does she say to those who say she lacks the political experience to hold a government post? Well, she laughs, I have life experience and I think its quite enough. And we know now that people with political experience dont have much success. The country is not in a good country. So let us try.

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High-fat Mediterranean diet does not cause weight gain, study finds

Researchers found that people whose diets were rich in olive oil and nuts lost more weight than those on low-fat regime

The Mediterranean diet, with a high fat content from olive oil and nuts, does not cause people to gain weight, a major analyze has found.

Fear of fat is misplaced and guidelines that restrict it in our diets are wrong, say the Spanish researchers who have followed more than 7,000 people, some feeing 30 g of nuts or 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil a day while others were put on a standard low-fat diet. Their research, they say, should put healthy fats from vegetables and fish back on the menu, changing the behaviours and the way we eat.

The publication of data on fats and weight loss from the respected Predimed randomised controlled trial, comes in the wake of a furore over a paper published by the UKs National Obesity Forum. The campaigning document assaulted Public Health Englands guidance on diet, claiming that eating saturated fats including butter and meat would enable people to lose weight. A damning replies from Public Health England said this was irresponsible and misinforms the public. Four members of the NOF resigned, saying they did not support publication of the paper.

The Mediterranean diet in the Predimed study, however, though high in fats does not include red meat or butter. Participants ate fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It does not include many foods and beverages that have been associated with long-term weight gain, such as fast foods, sweets and desserts, butter, red meat and processed meat, and sugar sweetened liquors, write the authors in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

Those who took part were haphazardly to be given to one of three groups. Some eat an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil( they were given 1 litre a week for themselves and their family ), while others eat an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet with added nuts they get 15 g of walnuts, 7.5 g of almonds, and 7.5 g of hazelnuts, with an additional 1kg sachet of mixed nuts every three months to account for family wants, tells the paper. The third group were put on a low-fat diet and dedicated small non-food gifts every three months, such as a kitchen clock or spoons.

More than 90% of the individuals who took component, aged between 55 and 80, were obese or overweight. Weight loss was not substantial, but was greatest in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil group 0.88 kg compared with 0.60 kg on the low-fat diet. All the groups increased their waist measurement, which tends to happen as people age, but the smallest increase was among those feeing a Mediterranean diet with added nuts( 0.37 cm compared with 1.2 cm in the low-fat group ).

The Barcelona-based researchers believe the results should rehabilitate the Mediterranean diet, high in healthy fats, which has known health benefits including reducing heart disease and cancer.

The belief that fat is always going to make people fat, because it is calorie-dense, resulted four decades ago to mass sales in supermarkets of low-fat and fat-free foods. It had the unfortunate effect of contributing to the obesity epidemic, as food producers substituted sugar and other carbohydrates for fat in everything from yoghurts to ready dinners.

More than 40 years of nutritional policy has advocated for a low-fat diet but were insuring little impact on rising levels of obesity, said lead writer Dr Ramon Estruch from the Spanish Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition at the University of Barcelona, Spain.

Our study shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats such as olive oil and nuts had little impact on bodyweight or waist circumference compared with people on a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet has well-known health benefits and includes healthy fats such as vegetable oils, fish and nuts. Our findings certainly do not imply that unrestricted diets with high levels of unhealthy fats such as butter, processed meat, sweetened beverages, desserts or fast-foods are beneficial.

Obesity is a worldwide fear and sets people at risk of heart disease, cancers, strokes and diabetes. Standard advice on losing weight is to eat a low-fat diet, say the researchers, while health bodies including the World Health Organisation recommend fat should make up no more than 30% of our diet.

Dietary guidelines should be revised to lay to rest the outdated, arbitrary limits on total fat consumption, writes Prof Dariush Mozaffarian, from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science& Policy at Tufts University, Boston, US, in a comment piece in the periodical.

Calorie-obsessed caveats and warnings about healthier, higher-fat selections such as nuts, phenolic-rich vegetable oils, yoghurt, and even perhaps cheese, should also be dropped. We must abandon the myth that lower-fat, lower-calorie products lead to less weight gain.

We should be focusing on the quality of our food rather than the calorie content on restaurant menus, and it is paradoxical to prohibition whole milk but allow sugar-sweetened fat-free milk, he writes.

The fat content of foods and diets is simply not a useful metric to judge long-term damages or benefits. Energy density and total caloric contents can be similarly misinforming. Rather, modern scientific evidence supportings an emphasis on eating more calories from fruit, nuts, vegetables, beans, fish, yoghurt, phenolic-rich vegetable oils, and minimally processed whole grains; and fewer calories from highly processed foods rich in starch, sugar, salt, or trans-fat. We dismiss this evidence including these results from the Predimed trial at our own peril.

Prof Simon Capewelll, vice-president for policy of the Faculty of Public Health, said the study and commentary, offer clear dietary messages; we need to promote a Mediterranean diet with olive oil and nuts, and cut our intake of meat, animal fats, refined carbohydrates, junk food and sugary drinks.

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Pope Francis fosters mothers to breastfeed in Sistine Chapel

Pontiff tells girls to breastfeed without dread at annual ceremony where 28 infants were baptised

Pope Francis has encouraged women attending a ceremony in the Sistine Chapel to feel free to breastfeed their children in the church.

The ceremony is a little long, someones exclaiming because hes hungry. Thats the route it is, the pontiff said.

You moms, go ahead and breastfeed, without anxiety. Just like the Virgin mary nursed Jesus, he told worshippers attending an annual rite celebrating the baptism of Jesus.

The Argentine pope on Sunday baptised 28 children 15 boys and 13 girls.

He has now been voiced his support for breastfeeding, including in public.

The benefits of breastfeeding include optimal nutrition and an immune system boost for babies, while helping moms bond with infants and speeding maternal weight loss after birth.

In many countries around the world, however, females are still widely discouraged from breastfeeding, especially in public.

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Pope Francis promotes mothers to breastfeed in Sistine Chapel

Pontiff tells women to breastfeed without fear at annual ceremony where 28 infants were baptised

Pope Francis has encouraged women attending a rite in the Sistine Chapel to feeling free to breastfeed their children in the church.

The ceremony is a little long, someones weeping because hes hungry. Thats the route it is, the pontiff said.

You moms, go ahead and breastfeed, without anxiety. Just like the Virgin mary nursed Jesus, he told worshippers attending an annual ceremony celebrating the baptism of Jesus.

The Argentine pope on Sunday baptised 28 children 15 boys and 13 girls.

He has now been voiced his support for breastfeeding, including in public.

The benefits of breastfeeding include providing optimal nutrition and an immune system boost for newborns, while helping mothers bond with infants and speeding maternal weight loss after birth.

In many countries around the world, however, girls are still widely discouraged from breastfeeding, especially in public.

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Yes, French Women( and Men) Do Get Fat

Despite a famous weight-loss volume( and popular culture) claim the contrary, it turns out that French females do get fat after all.”>

PARISImagine France, and along with the montage of the clichd baguettes, berets, and rustic villages, one is likely to conjure images of the pin-thin French femme . Polished and perfectly-coiffed, she navigates cobblestone alleys in perilous stiletto heel before settling into a sidewalk bistro where she devours a plate of steak frites, washings it down with a carafe of wine, and finishes with a chocolate souffl and a cheese plate. The indulgent feast doesnt add an ounce to her lithe frame, and after paying the tab, this impeccably garmented ideal of slender femininity melts into a crowd of equally chic, metabolically gifted lovelies. Cue Edith Piafs Non, je ne regrette rien .

This image of the impossibly slender Frenchwoman is so permeating in the United States that a bungalow industry has mushroomed over the past decade or so based on the premise that to vanquish weight woes Americans need only take a cue from their Gallic counterparts. From Mireille Guilianos 2004 bestseller French Women Dont Get Fat to myriad blogs and media articles, the notion that French females are immune to the swelling waistlines that plague many of the rest of us has become ingrained in the public consciousness.

If my fellow Americans could adopt even a fraction of the French stance about food and life, weight would cease to be a terror, an obsession, and disclose its true nature as part of the art of living, Guiliano writes in French Women Dont Get Fat . The real reason French females dont get fat is not genetic, but cultural.

Except it turns out that they do get fat after all.

In late October, lInstitut de veille sanitaire released startling findings in its weekly epidemiological bulletin: In a study of 30,000 French subjects, nearly 41 percentage of French females over the age of 30 were found to be overweight or obese, while their male counterparts fared even worse at 56.8 percentage. In words of clinical obesity, the dames and gents were about equal, with about 15.6 percent of women classified as obese is comparable to 15.8 percentage of men. Basically, about half of the French adult population is now clinically overweight. So much for the so-called French paradox.

These figures show that obesity remains a major health problem, Sbastien Czernichow, a researcher and a prof of nutrition at the University Paris-Descartes told Le Monde .

Whats more, the French are not only get fatter, but the trend is expected to continue. A 2012 state-sponsored analyze by ObEpi-Roche found that the number of obese people in France had doubled in the past 15 years. And according to data from the Paris-based think tank Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development( OECD ), obesity rates in France are expected to jump by another 10 percentage over the next decade.

While obesity in France is less prevalent than in the United Statesnearly three quarters of American adults are overweight or obesefor a country long lauded for its svelte inhabitants the findings are nonetheless surprising. So what is going on?

Some pin the blame on globalization and the adoption of American eating habits, especially the rise of fast-food culture throughout Europe. France is McDonalds second-largest marketplace in the world with 1, 380 outlets countrywide and 4.46 billion in sales in 2013. Ads for KFC meals are plastered around Paris metro stations, and in my own neighborhood, a Subway sandwich joint competes for foot traffic alongside traditional boulangeries and coffeehouse. Peruse any French supermarket and youll find plenty of sugary snacks and pre-packaged goods stocked alongside traditional food items. Yes , la malbouffe ( French for junk food) has infiltrated one of the worlds gastronomic capitals, and so great is the concern over its impact on waistlines and billfolds that the government is considering a junk food tax to tackle the problem. According to the countrys treasury, obesity in France is costing the nation 20.4 billion a yearan economic impact, as The Local points out, that is similar to that of smoking and drinking alcohol.

However, the most recent analyze indicates that other factors are at play besides a nationwide proliferation of Big Macs and fried chicken. As in the United States, there is a correlation between obesity and socioeconomic status. That is, the highest the income, “the worlds largest” the likelihood of a smaller waistline. For instance, a quarter of those earning a salary of under 1,000 a month were obese, compared to only 1 in 10 of those whose salaries surpass 4,200. Furthermore, the OECD reports that less-educated French females are almost three times more likely to be overweight than more educated females, while poorly trained men are 1.6 times more likely to be overweight than trained men.

The causes are well known, Le Monde reported last week. First of all, the poorest communities have difficulty both accessing healthy food, which is generally more expensive, and accessing athletics facilities that promote physical activity.

Sound familiar?

The study also identified increased age as one of the biggest risk factors associated with obesity, is recommended that like many Americans, the French also struggle to shed pounds as they get older. The rate of obesity among French 60 -year-olds is double the rate among those aged 30, indicating that slowing midlife metabolisms have little bearing on which side of the Atlantic you live on.

Finally, regional factors also play a role in French obesity rates, which devote some validity to the myth of the slender Frenchwoman. she lives in Paris, that is. Obesity prevalence in the City of Light is at only 10.7 percentthe lowest in the country. The figure is say, especially is comparable to Frances north, where obesity rates top 25 percentage. A significant number of higher-income residents partially explains the inequality, as does the pedestrian-friendly aspect of the city. Long strolls to the local marketplace are a part of life. As is the fact that stairs are aplenty and elevators are scarce. Live at the top of a seven-floor walkup, and youre bound to get some daily exercise in regardless of whether or not you want to, and the citys cost-effective public motorcycle system further encourages physical activity.

So is the streamlined feminine silhouette of popular imagination a complete myth, then? Well, yes and no. Take a saunter through the most sought-after neighborhoods in central Paris on any devoted day, and its not uncommon to encounter the slender, stylish dames that Guiliano pays homage to in French Women Dont Get Fat . And while she could have opted for bluntness, its safe to assume that a volume called Wealthy Parisian Women Dont Get Fat would have sold less copies.

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