There may be a whole cottage industry of books with titles like 'Why French women don't get fat' – but in fact just over 50 percent of adults in France are overweight, while 17 percent are obese.
And far from having a healthy diet, figures released by the French health ministry show that 85 percent of men and 94 percent of women aged 18 to 54 do not get their recommended of 25g of fibre per day.
Over the summer the French public health ministry Santé publique France updated its health advice in an attempt to persuade French people to take more exercise and eat more healthily.
And now the government hopes that by promoting the 'traffic light' labeling system that is being rolled out to all packaged food on sale in France, it can persuade people to get in better shape.
The Nutri-Score labels are optional, but to date, more than 180 food manufacturers and distributors have committed to using them, representing more than 5,000 products.
The labels cover processed products with more than one ingredient, with a few exceptions such as herbs, teas, coffees, yeast, honey, and alcoholic beverages.
They run from A – the healthiest – to E, the most unhealthy.
The official recommendations from Santé publique France are;
- Increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried vegetables (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.) and unsalted nuts (nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.), increase homemade food and physical activity.
- Choose seasonal foods, produced locally, eat alternately fatty fish and lean fish, wholemeal or cereal bread, cereals, pasta, semolina and wholemeal rice, rapeseed, walnut and olive oil, and have a sufficient but limited consumption of dairy products.
- Reduce alcohol, sweetened products and beverages, salted products, meat, deli meats, products with a Nutri-Score D and E label and time spent sitting.