The French Paradox: 5 reasons
- July 14, 2009 12:36 PM |
- By Kevin Yarr
by Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca
The French eat lots of high-fat food but remain thin - this is known as the French paradox. There are no definitive answers to this conundrum, but I just got back from France and have some observations.
First of all, I wasn't back on P.E.I. for a full day when it struck me that the paradox is not a myth. People are fatter here. Enough said on that.
It has always been my suspicion that there is no single cause for this phenomenon, that there are a number of factors at work. I'm sure this is not a definitive list, but here are my observations from two weeks of keeping my eyes open while living there.
1. The five-storey walk up. While in Paris for four days I lived in an apartment on the fifth floor with no elevator. There were lots of people living in the same neighbourhood in the same situation. This is just one aspect of a less mechanically-assisted culture. The country is not geared to the car in the same way Canada is. You have to walk a lot more.
2. The dinner plate. Last year we bought new dinner plates and the standard size has gone up to about 12 inches. Bizarrely, they barely fit in our new dishwasher. In contrast, the dinner plates at the two places where we stayed were about 8 inches across. I'll do the math for you, that's less than half the size. Can you say portion size?
3. Portion size. Speaking of which, twice we barbecued steak while we were there. The first night I bought 1.3 kg of steak and had the butcher slice it for me. He sliced it quite thinly, and the seven of us had a lot left over. The second night my brother bought 1.5 kg and asked the butcher to slice it thickly, a more North American style. There wasn't much left over.
4. Snacking. I don't remember seeing anyone in France walking down the street and eating at the same time. If the French want to eat, they sit down and make an event of it. The idea of eating at your desk while working is barbaric to them. Even stores close for a lunch break. Consequently, they do not eat non-stop.
5. Soda pop. There are pallet-loads of soda pop (literally, sitting on pallets in the aisle) in Charlottetown grocery stores right now. The soda pop section approaches the size of the entire fruit and vegetable department. Sure, you can get pop in French grocery stores, but the section doesn't take up a huge chunk of the middle of the store.
Can you think of other explanations for the French paradox?
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