French remain unequal when it comes to health

French women outlive French men and the wealthy play more sport than everyone else. A new report has revealed the biggest discrepancies when it comes to health in France.

French remain unequal when it comes to health
Female pensioners in France live over six years longer than their male counterparts. Photo: Hippolyte/Flickr
The national statistics agency DREES published its sixth annual national health report on Thursday, with the sprawling 500-page dossier's authors praising the "overall good health" of the French, especially compared to other developed countries.
However here are the five most glaring discrepancies in the country's health, according to French newspaper Le Figaro
Men and women's life expectancy
Men in France have a life expectancy of 79.2 years, compared to 85.4 years for women. That's a difference of over six years. While this might sound like a lot, the gap is decreasing. Back in 1994 it was 8.2 years, and 7.1 years in 2003. French women die more from cancer than cardio-vascular problems, while it's the other way around for men.
Daily alcohol consumption
Eighteen percent of Frenchmen, that's almost one in five, drink alcohol every single day. That's compared to just six percent of French women – or around one in twenty. This figure, the report noted, is about half as bad as it was 20 years ago. 
The regions where people drink the most often are Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon, while those drinking the least can be found in Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France and Lorraine.

(Photo: Paul Tridon/Flickr)
Life expectancy compared to job
The higher the professional position, the longer the life expectancy. Based on a French person at the age of 35, the report noted that managers can expect to live for another 47.2 years while the rest of the population can expect to live another 40.9 years. 

Adult exercise 
While 40 percent of adults say they play sport for at least ten minutes a week, it appears that a good salary directly relates to more physical activity. Around 54 percent of managers and professional workers says that they regularly exercise, compared to 27 percent of unskilled workers. 

(Photo: Tarnie/Flickr)
Children's dental hygiene
Parents with good jobs have kids with better teeth, the report noted. Over half (53 percent) of working class parents with children aged 10-11 will have had to deal with at least one decayed tooth. Only 26 percent of kids with parents in senior roles have had similar dental problems. 

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France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.