Snacks: Just Say “Non”

FOR YOUR HEALTH, AVOID SNACKING BETWEEN MEALS.

And then it gives the following web address:  www.mangerbouger.fr

MangerBouger means EatMove and it’s an initiative funded by the French government to get people to eat foods that are good for them and to exercise routinely. 

For a while now, there have been dire warnings on cigarettes in France.  I mean really dire, like the words Smoking Kills in bold black letters so big they stretch across half the pack. And soon there’ll be an icon with a slash over a silhouette of a pregnant woman with a glass to her lips, and a line saying that would-be moms should have zero alcohol. 

Now there’s the snack patrol and three other messages saying, “For your health” …

  • Eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid eating foods that are too fatty, too sweet, too salty.

While French people still look chicly trim to me, there’s a sense among some that these warnings are really needed because the scales are tipping, quite literally.  The other day, a Parisian nutritionist (I know, there was a time when this might have sounded like an oxymoron), told me that obesity is on the rise in France and that there are more overweight children here than ever.  She said, with alarm, that France is 20 years behind the United States in terms of the percentage of the population that is obese – her fear was that the gap could close rapidly.

I can’t imagine that companies are happy about having these warnings pasted on the bottom of their advertisements.  But if they don’t like the tag lines, it seems they can avoid them by contributing 1.5% of whatever their ads cost to INPES, a national institute devoted to nutrition education.  An interesting option, isn’t it? 

In a country that values personal freedom as much as it does foie gras, I think a campaign like this is fascinating and I wonder what it’s going to do.  We’ll know it’s working if it gets me to give up M&Ms.  I’ll keep you posted.

Dorie Greenspan

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