It's risky extrapolating from a sample of beach goers on the Cote d'Azur (selection bias and all that) but there do seem to be far fewer obese people in France than in Ireland (and certainly fewer than in the United States where I was on holiday last year). The French appear to be winning the battle against obesity, especially among French children.
This is encouraging - obesity might not be our destiny after all. Though the search for explanations for the surge in obesity has ranged from genetics to fructose corn syrup to viruses. But the most obvious one in France is that most people walk more than in the United States or in Ireland for that matter. High density, apartment-dwelling , urban populations spend more time on their feet than in their cars.
There is one other reason to expect the trend in obesity to be halted and even reversed: rising oil prices. If we are heading for another oil shock, then the good news, from a new US study, is that for every long-term $1 increase in gas prices, the national obesity rate drops by 10 percent.
I guess more of us will be walking to the beach in that scenario.