Popular diet expert Pierre Dukan, whose books have sold millions around the world, has written an open letter to the future president of France with advice on how to curb the country's obesity problem.

"/> Popular diet expert Pierre Dukan, whose books have sold millions around the world, has written an open letter to the future president of France with advice on how to curb the country's obesity problem.

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OBESITY

Diet guru: give extra marks to slim students

Popular diet expert Pierre Dukan, whose books have sold millions around the world, has written an open letter to the future president of France with advice on how to curb the country's obesity problem.

Diet guru: give extra marks to slim students
Matthew Hunt

One of Dukan’s proposals is that pupils preparing for the Baccalaureat exam should be able to gain extra marks by sticking within a specified body mass index range.

The Baccalaureat is the end of school exam taken by most 18-year-olds in France.

“For those who don’t need to lose weight, it wouldn’t change anything,” he told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview. “For the others, it would motivate them.”

Dukan claims that one in two French people are overweight and that the problem has doubled in just 12 years.

“Obesity is a real public health problem that is not taken seriously enough by politicians,” he said. 

While the problem may be growing in France, official statistics show that the country is still much slimmer than most of its neighbours.

France has one of the lowest rates of obesity in Europe, according to figures released by European statistics agency Eurostat in November 2011.

The data showed that 12.7 percent of women and 11.7 percent of men are obese in France, one of the lowest of the 19 countries covered. 

The highest rates of obesity for women were in the UK (23.9 percent) and for men in Malta (24.7 percent).

Dukan’s proposals will be on sale from Thursday, titled “An open letter to the future president of the Republic.” 

He believes the attitude to weight management has focused for too long on simple calorie counting. Dukan’s own diet advocates a protein-rich approach.

“The food and pharmaceutical industries have a huge interest to keep things as they are,” he said. “The first fatten people up while the second sell them drugs to treat the harmful health effects of their obesity.”

Dukan believes a change in approach could unleash a new wave of products that would ultimately benefit French business and the tax coffers of the state.

“As well as that France is known for its beautiful, slim women and we could export our savoir-faire around the world,” he added.

Dukan, who claims he is “neither left, nor right, but a doctor above all” will send his book to all the presidential candidates.

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OBESITY

US giant Coca-Cola ‘paid €8m to influence French health researchers’

US beverage giant Coca-Cola paid more than €8 million in France to health professionals and researchers in a bid to influence research,according to an investigation by French newspaper Le Monde published on Thursday.

US giant Coca-Cola 'paid €8m to influence French health researchers'
Obesity is on the rise in France. Photo:AFP

The newspaper said the aim of the funds was to have research published that would divert attention away from the detrimental effect of sugary drinks on health.

Le Monde, in its front page story, said Coca-Cola paid more than “€8 million to experts, various medical organisations and also sporting and event organisations.”

It said in France, as elsewhere, the financing fell under communication or sponsorship and not as authentic scientific work.

Coca-Cola has been under a similar spotlight before, after the New York Times in 2015 reported that the company gave financial backing to scientists who argued that having more exercise is more important to avoiding obesity than cutting calories.

In the outcry that followed that report, the firm promised to improve transparency and publish on its site the names of experts and activities it finances in the United States.

It did the same for France in 2016 following pressure from the NGO Foodwatch and it is this data that has been intensely analysed by Le Monde.

Le Monde said that as in the US, the company's financing is aimed at “making people forget the risks that come with consuming its drinks”.

In a separate report, the Journal of Public Health Policy said Coca-Cola added multiple clauses to ensuring the research it funds produces the desired result.

These include preventing results that displease the company being published by reserving the right to break contracts without giving a reason.

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