Obesity: Nearly half of France is overweight, says new study

obesity in france

Obesity in France is on the rise, and the PACA region is not excluded. Here’s the skinny on what the experts say.  

Obesity is a public health problem that’s all too common in today’s western society. In France, the problem appears to be getting worse, according to a new study put out on 20th February by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). 

The report says that obesity is on the rise in all age groups, and that in total, 47.3% of French adults are overweight. Of those, 17% are obese. The lines between genders are quite clear, with 36.9% of men and 24% of women falling into the overweight categories. Obesity, however, affects both fairly equally: 17.4% of French women are classed as obese versus 16.7% for men. 

The real concern is that young people are getting consistently fatter, with scientists revealing: “Since 1997, obesity among 18 to 24-year-olds has increased more than four-fold, and by almost three among 25 to 34-year-olds.”  

All of the country is affected, but the prevalence of obesity is highest in Hauts-de-France (22.1%), in Normandy (19.8%) and in Grand-Est (20.2%). The PACA region, with 15.9%, ranks amongst the three lowest in France.  

The link between obesity and socioeconomic situations is evident. The poorer the region, the higher the obesity rates. 

“People are not ‘addicted’ to bad food, but they are encouraged to buy it because it is cheaper,” says INSERM’s Annick Fontbonne. “Good quality food, food that is said to be healthy, is generally more expensive.”  

INSERM notes that the prevalence of excess weight is 51.1% among labourers, 45.3% among salaried employees, 43% among those in intermediate professions and 35% among managers. 

To understand better, obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. The causes are complex, but several factors stand out, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, certain health conditions, and behavioural and environmental genetics. 


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Photo source: I. Yunmai for Unsplash