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Obesity in France

 
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eam531



Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 27
Location: Buffalo, NY

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:13 pm    Post subject: Obesity in France Reply with quote

There is a perception that everyone in France is thin. I see it on this board, in fact. A book just came out in France, by a French woman who is obese. The NY Times did a story about it:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/21/world/europe/gabrielle-deydier-france-obesity-on-ne-nait-pas-grosse.html

The woman faces huge public scorn--people saying cruel things right to her face--and job discrimination.

There are almost 1000 comments, many of which are cruel or simplistic ("It's simple. She should just [insert commenters' favorite dietary plan.]") Some comments are more compassionate. Some are by people who lived or currently live in France and know that these very thin women didn't all get that way from eating modest portions of the Mediterranean diet, drinking water, and lots of walking. The thinness often comes from very low-calorie diets, Slim-Fast, and smoking. People smoke heavily in France, and it's very well known that smoking often kills your appetite.

While there are many things about French culture that are wonderful, the enormous pressure to be ultra-thin is not one of them. I'm certainly not "excusing" obesity; I'm appalled at how high the obesity rate is in this country, particularly among children. (Pets too, which is really sad.) I do think the issue of obesity does have nuance, and I certainly don't think the treatment of the French woman in the article is anything to admire.
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ironchef



Joined: 30 Jul 2012
Posts: 1593
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always been a little wary of the "lauding" of French culture as the solution to everything from obesity to kids with picky eating or sleep issues. It feels a little smug and simplistic to me - every society has its good and bad points I'm sure. I'm honestly not surprised to read this story about some of the downsides.
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jess1538



Joined: 23 Nov 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely - I have lived in France. There are plenty of fat people. And there are plenty of thin people, particularly women, who stay that way drinking and smoking and eating very little of anything. There are more normal weight, normal eaters, but it's not an eating utopia.
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 8159
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a conundrum, in my opinion. Sure, she shouldn't be vilified in public on a daily basis, but I have to say I find it hard to believe that she got to 330 lbs. eating moderately. Unreasonable French disapproval of fatness was not the only reason their society had one of the lowest BMI averages in Europe for just about as long as records have been kept. They still do, though overweight is growing, and maybe cultural acceptance of it isn't the best thing. I know I spent a lot of years being in denial and defending my overeating and to some degree, I feel a lot of the books promoting body acceptance and not dieting became my excuse to get way too full and even stuffed on mostly crap food. I don't think public disapproval is a good reason to change one's diet, but it's hard to imagine that morbidly obese people wouldn't be better served with an overhaul. How they get to the point at which they accept that, I don't know. Sure, it's really not fair that there are people who can eat "right," and still be fat by societies' standards, while some slim people "get away" with eating plenty of junk, and that an individual's private habits can be have such public displays, but I think morbidly obese people are doing themselves a disservice to use the unfairness to keep them caught.

I've written three different versions of this, and have almost chucked all of them, but because I think public acceptance of some ultimately destructive habits has gotten us into a lot of trouble, I'm going to take a risk and post this. I reserve the right to change my mind and delete it later, even though that may leave a confusing gap.

Let the arrow slinging begin!
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Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 64
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
Jan/12-26.8
Mar/13-24.9 Stayed at +/- 8-lb. for three years Sept/17 22.8 (but harder to maintain)
Dec/17 23.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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Larkspur



Joined: 06 Mar 2017
Posts: 275
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oolala-- I think it's possible to hold two contrary ideas at the same time Smile

It's a tough but worthwhile topic and I respect your taking it on. I share your ambivalence. I read this as you suggesting we should be less tolerant of some unhealthy behaviors, versus people? I'm thinking you would agree being obese is associated with enough unpleasantness that additional opprobrium is redundant? Rejection/shame is probably the most effective form of crowd control we have, and we use it pretty freely. I'd argue compassion, or at least non-judgement, seems to work better. (There, I just argued against myself-- either rejection is the most effective tool, or it isn't. But for weight loss, I think non-judgement beats rejection by a mile, don't you?)

I do feel sad when I see so many kids burdened with extra weight. And I share your mixed feelings about the fat acceptance movement, which may be helping to normalize something that is probably better not normalized. I think where I really part ways with fat acceptance is where it seems (I might be unfair in thinking this) to be looking at the science with rose colored glasses.

I dunno. It's a toughie. The change in body sizes has made it easier for post-baby me. My BMI of 30 blends in pretty well most of the time (I am way fatter than the rest of my book club, alack). You can literally not tell me anything about science based diet or weight loss advice I have not read-- well, okay, maybe YOU could Oolala, but I would smother 98% of the population at Weight Control Jeopardy. When I meet with my book club, I feel chubby and unpretty. But that doesn't help me get any thinner. Good information, an acceptance that a certain amount of discipline is a blessing, more time for better food and exercise-- those things help. (I think my NoS record is something like 1 pound a month, LOL.) But it's not my first priority and there are certain things I am not so far willing to give up. I wonder what kind of societal pressure/messaging would change someone like me, or the 300 pound French lady, or the fluffy kid down the street? Would it be a good thing overall? What would that look like, do you think?
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 8159
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the middle of another post, but I'll say briefly that to me there is a world of difference between a BMI of 30 and the author in the link. If you feel vital most of the time, are okay with the amount of modern manufactured food you eat, are okay with your level of hunger and satiety, and with your activity level, it's probably better to keep your sights on other avenues of satisfaction and ride the wave of inner annoyance when you're with your book club. You can't even be sure that the other women aren't sitting there deploring their bodies anyway.

It's certainly convenient for me now that my BMI is much lower than when I started, but there was a definite degree of luck that aiming at those other things got me where I am. It wasn't that I couldn't stand being at BMI 30, it was that I couldn't stand the amount of overeating and lying to myself about whether I could manage it better that got and kept me on No S. And there was a long time that my best efforts kept me in the overweight range.
_________________
Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 64
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
Jan/12-26.8
Mar/13-24.9 Stayed at +/- 8-lb. for three years Sept/17 22.8 (but harder to maintain)
Dec/17 23.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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ladybird30



Joined: 07 May 2017
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a complex topic with no simple right or wrong. I can only speak to my own experience. I have been struggling with overeating since my mid teens. I always knew that the excess weight I carried was because I ate too much. No amount of pressure or fat shaming would have changed my eating. In fact, since it probably started as a response to overwhelming stress, it would have probably made it worse.

Certainly the comments I got when I started to put on weight had no positive effect. Why would they when they contained no information on how to deal with the food cravings or the other stresses in my life.

No S has given me the structure which has allowed me to outwait the food cravings to a degree I have never been able to before. I am very grateful for that.

That said, I have never been more than moderately overweight. I put that down in part to good luck. I have not having picked up some of the habits that are considered normal, such as a sweetened drink habit, or a fast food habit. I have also had some good lifelong habits, such as exercise and home cooking from fresh foods. Another reason is that my personal circumstances improved as I got older.

I still feel appalled when I see small children who are so fat that they cannot even walk properly.
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