France’s 2017 health report: The French are living longer but not so healthily

The French can expect to live longer lives than people living in other developed countries but those years might not be spent in the best health, a new report shows. Here's what else it said about health in France.

France's 2017 health report: The French are living longer but not so healthily
Photo: Flickr
The study published every two years by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) compared people's health across 35 developed nations. 
In France, people born today can expect to live to 82.4 years compared to an average life expectancy of 80.6 years. 
This puts France in sixth place behind the likes of Japan, where people have the highest life expectancy at 83.9 years and Spain and Switzerland, where in both countries people can expect to live to a very respectable 83-years-old. 
The study also showed that France has one of the lowest rate of deaths caused by heart attack, only behind Japan and South Korea. 

Question: Just how healthy is the French health system?

Photo: AFP
But while life expectancy might be high and a fatal heart attack less likely than elsewhere, the French aren't living out their years in the best health, the report shows.
The rate of dementia including Alzheimer's in France is higher than the average
The figure stands at 20 cases of dementia out of every 1000 people which is put down to France's aging population. 
The health study also showed that France has a lower than average rate of overweight and obese people, with 49 percent of people over the age of falling into these categories compared to 54 percent. 
And the same went for air pollution with the average annual exposure of French people to fine particles at 12.4 micrograms / m3, against 15.1 in the average of OECD countries.
However the report isn't all good news for the French, with tabacco and alcohol consumption higher than the average seen across the nations included in the OECD study. 
Over the age of 15, a massive 22.4 percent of the French population smokes against an average of 18.4 percent and they drink 11.9 litres of pure alcohol each a year, compared the average of nine litres. 
The report also warns against the overuse of antibiotics, with the French using them 50 percent more compared to other developed countries. 


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.