[div class=attrib]From the New York Times:[end-div]
PARIS — You’re reminded hourly, even while walking along the slow-moving Seine or staring at sculpted marble bodies under the Louvre’s high ceilings, that the old continent is crumbling. They’re slouching toward a gerontocracy, these Europeans. Their banks are teetering. They can’t handle immigration. Greece is broke, and three other nations are not far behind. In a half-dozen languages, the papers shout: crisis!
If the euro fails, as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, then Europe fails. That means a recession here, and a likely one at home, which will be blamed on President Obama, and then Rick Perry will get elected, and the leader of the free world will be somebody who thinks the earth is only a few thousand years old.
You see where it’s all going, this endless “whither the euro question.” So, you think of something else, the Parisian way. You think of what these people can eat on a given day: pain au chocolat for breakfast, soupe a? l’oignon gratine?e topped by melted gruyere for lunch and foie gras for dinner, as a starter.
And then you look around: how can they live like this? Where are all the fat people? It’s a question that has long tormented visitors. These French, they eat anything they damn well please, drink like Mad Men and are healthier than most Americans. And of course, their medical care is free and universal, and considered by many to be the best in the world.
… Recent studies indicate that the French are, in fact, getting fatter — just not as much as everyone else. On average, they are where Americans were in the 1970s, when the ballooning of a nation was still in its early stages. But here’s the good news: they may have figured out some way to contain the biggest global health threat of our time, for France is now one of a handful of nations where obesity among the young has leveled off.
First, the big picture: Us. We — my fellow Americans — are off the charts on this global pathology. The latest jolt came from papers published last month in The Lancet, projecting that three-fourths of adults in the United States will be overweight or obese by 2020.
Only one state, Colorado, now has an obesity rate under 20 percent (obesity is the higher of the two body-mass indexes, the other being overweight). But that’s not good news. The average bulge of an adult Coloradan has increased 80 percent over the last 15 years. They only stand out by comparison to all other states. Colorado, the least fat state in 2011, would be the heaviest had they reported their current rate of obesity 20 years ago. That’s how much we’ve slipped.
… A study of how the French appear to have curbed childhood obesity shows the issue is not complex. Junk food vending machines were banned in schools. The young were encouraged to exercise more. And school lunches were made healthier.
… But another answer can come from self-discovery. Every kid should experience a fresh peach in August. And an American newly arrived in the City of Light should nibble at a cluster of grapes or some blood-red figs, just as the French do, with that camembert.
[div class=attrib]More from the article here.[end-div]
[div class=attrib]Obesity classification standards illustration courtesy of Wikipedia.[end-div]