Are French Women Really Thinner?

bon appétit magazine
Conde Nast Digital Studio
Conde Nast Digital Studio

Maddie Donnelly, Bon Appétit

When a certain Dutchess of Cambridge and her younger sister Pippa stepped out of the royal wedding-day carriage roughly a month ago, many of the world's female eyes went directly to their waistlines. Many of these viewers' fingers went directly to Google and began searching for the Middleton sisters' reported weight-loss regimen, the extraordinarily popular "Dukan Diet"-or as Dr. Pierre Dukan explains, "The real reason French women don't get fat."

It's not the first time we've been told that the French have that whole willowy look and fit lifestyle down pat (remember that book in '05 that drummed up so much debate?). But are French women really thinner? And if so, what's the je-ne-sais-quoi behind their svelte physiques?

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As it turns out, much of Europe faces a growing obesity crisis not unlike the one in the U.S., and has for a while. McDonald's cites France as its second largest market, and 1 in 6 French citizens are now overweight (compared to 1 in 3 Americans). The European Union hosted its second annual European Obesity Day, a government-funded event offering healthy living workshops throughout France and Europe, a few weeks ago. And French women are indulging more than ever: A recent study reports that they eat, drink, sleep, and shop more than any other nationality.

Still though, France's obesity statistics are on par with America's from the '70s. And France is the only nation to prove that their schools' weight loss programs actually work for kids. Which means it'll be a while before we see a French version of The Biggest Loser keeping Parisians glued to their TVs on Wednesday nights.

Whether or not you believe that French women are destined, either genetically or culturally, to be thin, we can still learn something from their well-known love of food as well as several of their positive lifestyle choices:

-Portion Control: French entrees are typically the size of American appetizers.
-Walk more: According to famed author Mireille Guiliano, French women walk about three times as much as American women.
-Think of Processed Foods As Poison: The French don't gorge themselves on "fat free" items. They indulge in natural fats in smaller amounts.
-Savor Your Meal: Even though they eat smaller meals, the French linger longer.
-Amour Yogurt: Americans have recently come around to yogurt in the way the French did long ago. It's nutritious and aids digestion.

To try some of our tips, check out the Bon Appetit Food-Lover's Cleanse.



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