Paradox or not, the French are doing something right. Consider this: French women have just nabbed the secondspot in a new global study of life spans in 35 industrialized countries, with French men ranking not too far behind. Women born in France in the year 2030 will live to an average age of 88.6 years — and men will live to 81.7. The U.S., on the other hand, will fare much worse by 2030, when men and women are projected to live to 80 and 83, respectively. As a result, American women will slump to 27th out of 35 countries, from their current 25th spot, while men will fall from 23rd to 26th.
Despite a diet filled with artery-clogging cheese and butter, the obesity rate in France is only 15.3 percent, according to the New York Times. In America, where many gorge on diet soda and frozen dinners, the rate is 36.5 percent. So how does a population that loves steak frites and shies away from the gym manage to stay so healthy and live so long?
Simply put, they're doing a lot of things right. Here are just five tips the French can give us about living longer and healthier lives.
1. The French know that what you consume is extremely important — and the government has taken steps to ensure its citizens eat healthy.
Compared with the United States, the obesity rate in France is low — and yet it's been creeping up in recent years. In order to combat the trend, the government decided earlier this year to ban free refills of sugary beverages. The law took place immediately and applies to restaurants, fast-food chains, schools and camps. The French have taken other steps as well, such as eliminating vending machines from schools in 2005 and placing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2012. Furthermore, healthy habits are ingrained in the French culture from a young age. The French generally eat smaller portions than Americans, and they usually enjoy only one large meal a day — lunch — whereas Americans often enjoy three. In addition, snacking is rarely encouraged. Even children are taught to take small bites and chew slowly.
2. They know that sex should continue to be a key part of life as you age.