creators.com opinion web
Conservative Opinion General Opinion
Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
18 Dec 2014
Pottersville Goes Online

What is it that makes the holiday movie classic "It's a Wonderful Life" feel so ancient? It's the relationships,… Read More.

16 Dec 2014
Charity Versus Panhandling

I'm paying up at this discount store, and the nice woman at the cash register asks me something like, "Do you … Read More.

11 Dec 2014
Do You Vote What You Drink?

Did you know that Democrats drink more than Republicans? Or that they are likelier to choose clear liquors, … Read More.

Other Reasons Why French Women Don't Get Fat

Comment

Yes, there are those charming reasons "French Women Don't Get Fat," as outlined in the popular book of that name by Mireille Guiliano. Portion control is key. Frenchwomen may eat their famously rich sauces and fatty pates with gusto, but only in dainty amounts. They go for quality over quantity and avoid "diet" foods — said to drain off the hearty flavors that sate appetites. And, of course, they walk more.

But other reasons may be less charming. The scandal over the drug Mediator and the lax oversight of the French drug licensing agency point to other, less appealing weight-control practices. Mediator was licensed as a diabetes drug, which gave it cover for a less essential use — as a diet pill. Allegedly damaging to hearts and lungs, it may have caused as many as 2,000 deaths and sent countless others to the hospital, according to government monitors. French officials took Mediator off the market two years ago, and now many question how it got there in the first place.

The answer, it appears, does not speak well of France's relatively laissez-faire drug regulatory system. Amazingly, members of the committee that approves drugs for the French market may also work for the pharmaceutical companies selling them. America's more stringent Food and Drug Administration is far less forgiving of such conflicts of interest. Such double-dealing is actually a crime.

The French press has focused on Mediator's maker, the secretive Laboratoires Servier, accused in the past of pushing dangerous weight-control products onto French women. Two of them involved the appetite suppressant fen-phen, which was blamed in this country for increased cases of heart-valve disease.

Another dietary aid for French women is cigarettes. (The decline of smoking in this country is often partly blamed for the rising incidence of obesity.) About seven years ago, Guiliano argued against that explanation, noting that 21 percent of Frenchwomen smoke, not far from the 20 percent of their American sisters who do.

Recent statistics tell another story. Smoking rates among French women have risen from 20 percent to 26.5 percent, according to French anti-smoking advocates. Some say that tobacco-related diseases may become the leading cause of death for Frenchwomen by 2025.

Christelle Toure, who heads France's anti-tobacco campaign, has said that Frenchwomen's greatest fear in quitting smoking is that they will "fatten up."

Cigarettes have long been regarded as an eating substitute by the weight-conscious — of whom French women lead (forgive the pun) the pack. Though not officially French, actress Audrey Hepburn might as well have been. Her lifelong lithe figure was helped by a smoking habit of two or three packs a day. (On the set of "A Nun's Story," she reportedly chain-smoked while wearing a nun's habit.) Hepburn died at 63 of appendix cancer, a condition for which smoking is a major risk factor.

Like many French actresses, Hepburn glamorized on-screen smoking. One of her iconic images, from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," has her dolled up in a large hat and little black dress, and with a long cigarette holder dangling from her mouth. That photo briefly landed on a stamp issued by Germany. It was withdrawn after Hepburn's son opposed the picture of his mother happily smoking and refused to grant the rights to use it.

Let it be noted that Audrey Hepburn remains one of our most admirable stars and started smoking long before surgeons general began issuing warnings. Furthermore, smoking by adults is the business of the adults.

But suffice it to say, Hepburn maintained her 110 pounds by doing more than avoiding Burger King Whoppers. And Frenchwomen don't get fat for some of the same reasons.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Your assertion that the FDA is an independent agengy apart from the influence of the pharmaceutical industry is rediculous to the point of sublime. The FDA and the AMA are wholely owned subsidiaries of Big Pharma nd you know it. The FDA, in fact, is a criminal organization and you, by shilling for them, are an accomplice to the crimes.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Fred Shute
Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:39 PM
I read your article today in the Arizona Republic and I feel that it is totally off the mark. I am married to a French man and have lived in France for 10 years. So what I am writing, I speak from experience.
First I would like to say that the French are getting fatter outside the major cities as they shop more in the Hypermarche (supermarkets) There, as in the US, the food is industrialized and the packaged food is full of sugar, salt and additives. But, in general, the lovely French women who don't get fat are for the reasons so well written in Mireille Guiliano's bestselling book. The French woman that eat fresh food from the markets and make it themselves. They watch their portion sizes; they walk more and in general, exercise more.
The issue of smoking and taking of diet drugs is so minuscule a reason for not getting fat compared to the real reasons they don't get fat. And therefore, your article gives the wrong impression. Your sentence about 'the members of the committee that approves drugs for the French market may also work for the pharmaceutical companies selling them' is a joke. And the US doesn't do the same for our pharmaceutical industry? Our FDA hasn't approved drugs that haven't hurt Americans taking them? Please!
Furthermore, the marketing done on the packages of food in the US and the advertising that goes with it is deceiving. Only this week, I saw a bag of sweet potatoes chips with a marketing blurb that said something to the effect of "eating vegetables with every bite" So deceptive.
I am bringing up these points about the American market because I feel that before you criticize the French, you should look in your own backyard.
The truth is the French, in general, live longer than us because, they sit down to a meal and have conversation and enjoy their food. They drink wine, their portions are less and their food is fresh from the outdoor markets. They also have a health care system for all their people where they have preventive measures available to their citizens. You may not think that this fact doesn't affect the their health but it does.
So your article really irritated me and my French husband. For us, it had no true basis and instead fed into the way Americans, some of them, criticize the French.
Comment: #2
Posted by: J. Benoit
Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:31 PM
I read your article today in the Arizona Republic and I feel that it is totally off the mark. I am married to a French man and have lived in France for 10 years. So what I am writing, I speak from experience.
First I would like to say that the French are getting fatter outside the major cities as they shop more in the Hypermarche (supermarkets) There, as in the US, the food is industrialized and the packaged food is full of sugar, salt and additives. But, in general, the lovely French women who don't get fat are for the reasons so well written in Mireille Guiliano's bestselling book. The French woman that eat fresh food from the markets and make it themselves. They watch their portion sizes; they walk more and in general, exercise more.
The issue of smoking and taking of diet drugs is so minuscule a reason for not getting fat compared to the real reasons they don't get fat. And therefore, your article gives the wrong impression. Your sentence about 'the members of the committee that approves drugs for the French market may also work for the pharmaceutical companies selling them' is a joke. And the US doesn't do the same for our pharmaceutical industry? Our FDA hasn't approved drugs that haven't hurt Americans taking them? Please!
Furthermore, the marketing done on the packages of food in the US and the advertising that goes with it is deceiving. Only this week, I saw a bag of sweet potatoes chips with a marketing blurb that said something to the effect of "eating vegetables with every bite" So deceptive.
I am bringing up these points about the American market because I feel that before you criticize the French, you should look in your own backyard.
The truth is the French, in general, live longer than us because, they sit down to a meal and have conversation and enjoy their food. They drink wine, their portions are less and their food is fresh from the outdoor markets. They also have a health care system for all their people where they have preventive measures available to their citizens. You may not think that this fact doesn't affect the their health but it does.
So your article really irritated me and my French husband. For us, it had no true basis and instead fed into the way Americans, some of them, criticize the French.
Comment: #3
Posted by: J. Benoit
Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:31 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Froma Harrop
Dec. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 22 Dec 2014
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 20 Dec 2014
Jamie Stiehm
Jamie StiehmUpdated 19 Dec 2014

24 Sep 2013 Game Soon Over on Obamacare

8 May 2007 The French Election and the American Way

2 Oct 2008 Law for Poor Didn't Cause Meltdown