April 8, 2012 | By Vivian Song, MSN Travel
Countries losing the battle of the bulge

7. France



France (© iStock)
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When it comes to food and weight, the French acknowledge that theirs is a culture rife with irony. It's a paradox that's been at play for years now. Though France is arguably the gastronomic capital of the world, it's also the second largest market for McDonald's worldwide, after the US. Is it a coincidence that obesity rates in this country have also been steadily on the rise? Currently, the OECD says about 11 per cent of the population is obese, a statistic that might seem surprising given that French people — most notably women — aren't supposed to get fat. But the proliferation of fast-food joints in the country and ever-larger portion sizes and sedentary lifestyles has led the French government to work on reversing the trend, starting with a focus on the country's children. And ketchup. Last year, the ministry of agriculture and food banned ketchup in school cafeterias. The only exception: French fries. And ketchup rations are strictly limited. Like we said, it's a country rife with paradox.

* Bing: Why French women don't get fat

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