Mireille Guiliano's bestseller 'French Women Don't Get Fat' may need a title change. According to government figures, 5.9 million of France's 63.4 million people are obese and 20 million are overweight.
The figures have got the French government scratching their heads for effective ways to come back to the former image of the svelte and cuisine-conscious French.
Something they are doing now is coming down hard on junk food advertisements. Such advertisements will now be accompanied by statutory warnings like: For your health, eat your fruits and vegetables, exercise daily, avoid processed foods and snacks in between meals, etc.
Advertisers who refuse to do so will have to pay a fine of 1.5 percent of the cost of advertising. This will go to the National Institute for Health Education.
This move will cover ads on television, Internet, radio and billboards. The Health Ministry this way, hopes to encourage the youth of France to cut down on unhealthy food choices and hence ward off obesity.
While opinion is divided on the effect of these changes, one thing is certain. The WHO has warned that unless profound changes are made in the way food is marketed and processed, the tide of the obesity epidemic will just rush forward, causing millions worldwide to suffer an early death or disability.
There are other European countries, which have prepared the way for France.
Sweden and Norway forbid broadcast advertising aimed at children. Ireland has imposed a ban on TV ads for candy and fast food and prohibits using celebrities and sports stars to promote junk food to kids. Britain has adopted nutritional guidance for food packages.
Hopefully, the French will think twice before succumbing to foods high in sugar, salt and fat.