Modernization and globalization are buffeting French food traditions, giving rise to American-style snacking and—quelle horreur—American-style obesity, reports NPR. Over the past decade, adult obesity rates have climbed to 14% from 8%—still just half the rate of the United States, but enough that the French government is taking action, removing vending machines from schools and running ads to encourage eating right and exercise.
"There are some places in France where obesity levels are as high as in the US, like in poor, immigrant communities," said a doctor. "So as we watch US rates rise, this is extremely worrying for us." Food experts emphasize it is not so much what people eat as how they eat it, with the French once emphasizing the ritual of mealtime and cooking their own healthy meals. But today, those traditions are fading. "We're copying what we see on American television shows," said one French parent. "Now we think we have to do things we never did before, like open our refrigerator as soon as we walk in our front door, no matter the time of day." (Read more France stories.)